Take Charge of Your Health - Second Opinions Matter - A LOT
70% of patients feel so confident in their physician's advice
that they don't seek out another medical opinion. -Gallup Poll
Think about how much time we can spend obsessing about our hair, finding the perfect outfit or researching what car to buy. We would never consider going to just any barber or only one shop or website. Why is it that with our medical care we are reluctant to go to more than one place or travel outside our immediate community to seek additional information or treatment options? Why do so many of us never think about or act upon getting a second opinion?
For some the answer may be as simple as not wanting to hurt their doctor's feelings; yet any physician who would have hurt feelings over your questions about other options or opinions is not the physician you need. If something new or different is learned in the process of obtaining a second opinion, so much the better. Speaking with someone else doesn't mean you won't be back; it may well mean you will return a more committed and engaged patient, which the data on health improvement tells us is a good thing for your health.
While much of the time routine medical care is just that; other times we need to call in the cavalry. It is crucial to be sure the diagnosis is accurate before you overhaul your life, so why not take the opportunity to get a second opinion? It is a chance to gain more knowledge and insight into the accuracy of your diagnosis and will help refine treatment options. Many times retesting isn't even necessary as existing digital copies of labs, films and actual slides can be used.
Real life doctors expect their patients to seek second opinions on serious matters (they certainly would). Physicians understand that it's not a popularity contest, but a fight for survival and maintaining an active lifestyle that requires information. To make broaching the subject easier, ask your doctor who they would recommend as a second opinion. By taking any drama out of the situation you show an appreciation and respect for your physician's opinion and recommendation. As one physician says, "When a patient tells me they wish to talk to another doctor, I try to be as helpful as possible. A fresh set of eyes on a diagnosis can never hurt, and I want my patients to see me as an ally in their health care, not a hindrance." A second opinion is a chance not only to confirm the diagnosis and to seek treatment options, but also to gain insight and understanding about supportive care like nutrition, side effect management and the development of support systems.
In medical care, as in life, there is generally more than one road to follow; it's why different providers may prefer different approaches. Gastroenterologist Robynne Chutkan, MD knows that for far too long medicine has been all about the "what" when it's the "why" that is just as important. It is helpful to find out why a provider is recommending what they suggest and to find out what the implications of their approach are for you.
Surgeon Peter Scardino, MD offers the following important Four Key Steps to follow in decision making for medical decisions: 1) Be sure you have the right diagnosis, 2) Be cautious, 3) Consult with experts, and 4) Think twice before treatment.
Remember instead of creating an imaginary story line where what we don't know won't hurt us, relative to second opinions: Knowledge is Power. It's an important step in Taking Charge of Our Health.
For further information and resources visit the Health-E3 website.