I want to tell my doctor: “I want a second opinion.”

Medical diagnosis can be tricky – particularly when it’s your very own health we’re talking about.  So who cares if you want a second opinion?

Well the doctor’s ego might…

And no one wants to hurt a caregiver, even your doctor.  In our polite society, we often put other people’s feelings ahead of our own.  Some people believe it may be considered “insulting” to your doctor, or at the very least “awkward”.  And it shouldn’t be – really!

So here are some “nice” ways to do it and what to incorporate:

  • Be Upfront – Don’t go behind your doctor’s back.  Your doctor will appreciate your honesty.  Those health records are your records, and the law requires doctors to give you access.
  • Say It Straight – Medicine is complicated, so try saying “I understand there are tons of studies, some contradictory, and doctors have different ways of interpreting them.  I wonder if you think I should get another doctor’s position on my situation?”
  • Be Nice – It goes a long way.  Add the nice statement, “I appreciate the time you’ve spent examining me.  I know this was a difficult diagnosis for you to call.  Seeing an additional doctor is just so I don’t sit up all night forever wondering.

What might be some of the clues or situations in which you might ask for a second opinion?

  • Being bounced around between doctors is one scenario.  Determining your exact diagnosis will ultimately assist in developing the most effective treatment.  It is SO VERY IMPORTANT!
  • Any type of diagnosis that is severe warrants asking for a second opinion – particularly diseases such as cancer.  Especially, if you have a nagging feeling that the diagnosis isn’t sitting well with you.  Trust your intuition.
  • Another reason to ask for a second opinion is trying to determine a course of action when there is more than one treatment option.  This is close to the saying “two heads are better than one.”  A reassuring opinion is worth its’ weight in gold!

Okay – so what if no diagnosis is being made?

You don’t want to lose faith in your caregiver, particularly if they are a specialist.  So a graceful request for a second opinion can potentially move you closer to further answers, and subsequent solutions.

We highly recommend that you get a copy of your records.  That way, you know what is currently recorded about you.  Write your questions and concerns down prior to visiting with the new doctor.  Having the critical information and your misgivings or concerns recorded will help the second opinion doctor focus on you.

Who to go to?  Ask your doctor – they know who’s reputable in their field, and more than likely, they want the best for you.  Or, do some research yourself.

A little known research tool is Google Scholar (http://scholar.google.com/).  With Google Scholar, you can search published books, abstracts and articles across many disciplines and sources.  This is very helpful when trying to identify a person that is active in the field that is specific to your case.

You are actively putting your health first.  Congratulations!  In addition, you are standing on the shoulders of giants when you’re able to view relevant works from academic publishers and professional societies.

One final special note:  Don’t give up any appointments with your first doctor, just in case the second opinion doctor doesn’t work out for whatever reason.  Makes sense, right?!

We wish you the best!  Know that we’re here for you, and we’re interested in you having the best health possible!

And don’t forget…  We want to hear from you!  Tell us your “Second Opinion” stories, and let’s all share your ideas!

To your best health!