A second opinion is when you seek the advice of another doctor after you’ve received a diagnosis or treatment recommendation from your original doctor. The first doctor you see is sometimes called the “first opinion,” making the next doctor you see a “second opinion.” Some people, especially those with serious diagnoses, consult with multiple doctors. This can include “third opinions,” “fourth opinions,” and so on.
Whether your “first opinion” and “second opinion” agree or not, it’s important to evaluate all the options available to you. This helps ensure you’re making the most informed health decisions possible.
Many people think that requesting a second opinion will offend their doctor. In fact, second opinions are not only commonplace, but recommended, even if you love your doctor. This is because experts often have different views on the best treatment path, and consulting with multiple experts can help ensure you’re making the most informed health decisions possible.
The case for getting a second opinion is well-supported in research. A 2017 study by the Mayo Clinic found that nearly 90% of patients seeking a second opinion receive a new or modified diagnosis. Further, 21% of people received a “distinctly different” diagnosis, meaning that 1 in 5 people were diagnosed completely incorrectly. Another study from Johns Hopkins concluded that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States today.
Getting a second opinion is important no matter what health challenge you’re facing, but it’s especially critical in a few cases:
Our algorithms identify doctors who are experts in your condition, but who are likely to have different insights about your care options. These doctors are identified based on three key pieces of information:
If you still need a “first opinion,” you can find a doctor by condition, specialty, or name here. If you’re not sure what condition to enter, use our Symptom Checker to narrow your search. Note that you shouldn’t use a second opinion during a medical emergency and you should seek immediate care.
To learn more about how MediFind works, including how we define expertise, including how we define expertise, explore our methodology.
Second opinions are particularly recommended for serious, complex, life-threatening, and rare diseases, though you should feel confident pursuing a second opinion at any point in your care. Some of the most common searches on MediFind include:
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
Colorectal cancer (CRC)
Cystic fibrosis (CF)
Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL)
HER2-positive breast cancer (HER2+)
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
Mantle cell lymphoma
Multiple sclerosis (MS)
Renal cell carcinoma (RCC)
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
Sickle cell disease
Small-cell lung cancer (SCLC)
Squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC)
Ulcerative colitis (UC)