More Information on Second Opinions

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  • Just What Is A Second Opinion?

    A doctor might tell you that you need surgery for a health problem that isn't an emergency. This means that the surgery doesn't have to be done right away. You have time to talk with your doctor and decide what's best for you. Deciding what is best for you could mean getting a second opinion from another doctor. A second opinion is when another doctor gives his or her view about your health problem and how it should be treated.

    Doctors don't always agree on when surgery is the best choice of treatment. You have the right to:

    • know your choices
    • have another doctor look at those choices with you, and
    • have your wishes considered before choosing surgery.

    When Should I Get A Second Opinion?

    Don't wait for a second opinion if you need emergency surgery. Some types of emergencies that may require surgery right away include:

    • acute appendicitis,
    • blood clot or aneurysm, or
    • accidental injuries.

    It's up to you to decide when and if you will have non-emergency surgery. Getting a second opinion can help you make a more informed decision. You might also want a second opinion if your doctor tells you that you should have certain kinds of major non-surgical diagnostic or therapeutic tests.

    How Do I Get A Second Opinion?

    When you decide you want a second opinion, ask your doctor to send your medical records to the doctor giving the second opinion. That way, you may not have to repeat the tests you already had.

    Before you visit the second doctor, call that office and make sure they have your records. During the visit, be sure that the doctor knows what tests you have had and what surgery you want to discuss.

    It may help to write down a list of questions. Take the list of questions with you to the doctor who will be giving you a second opinion.

    What Do I Do If The First And Second Opinions Are Different?

    If the second doctor doesn't agree with the first, you may feel confused about what to do. In that case, you may want to:

    • talk more about your condition with your first doctor or
    • talk to a third doctor.

    How Do I Find A Doctor To Give Me A Second Opinion?

    Ask your doctor for the name of another doctor to see. Don't hesitate to ask; most doctors want you to get a second opinion. If you don't want to ask the doctor who recommends the surgery, ask another doctor you trust for the name of a doctor to see for a second opinion. Make sure the second doctor accepts your insurance.

    Ask your local medical society for the names of doctors who treat your illness or injury. A search on the Internet or your local library can help you identify these societies.