So many times, I’ve read stories about needless operations, treatments, and scary diagnoses only to find out that a radiologist read a report wrong or saw a shadow on an x-ray that actually turned out to be nothing. But the opposite can happen, such as with me when I had 10 out of the 12 clinical symptoms of advanced chronic Lyme disease, but tested negative for it. While in the hospital, a new doctor who had taken over my case said to me on the way out, “Listen, my best advice to you would be to go see a Lyme specialist.” I did. After the Lyme specialist sent my blood to both Denmark and NY, it came back positive. If it hadn’t been for that second opinion, who knows what would have happened.
Let’s start with the definition of a second opinion is: A second opinion means you are consulting with another doctor to confirm a diagnosis and/or find possible different treatment choices available to you. It is recommended to get a second opinion immediately to avoid delays in your treatment and recovery.But what situations call for a second opinion?
One day, you’re at work and start to get pain in a certain part of your body. It then goes away and a few days later, it’s back. It goes away, but then keeps on coming back stronger each time. You finally give in and make an appointment with your PCP who orders a battery of tests. The test comes back positive for Cancer, slipped disk, shadows in the tests that maybe showed up in your brain, etc. The radiologist declares it as (for this example) Cancer. You sit there scared and wondering what’s next. Then you’re sent to Oncology and based on the results, they suggests treatments. You will get sick, lose your hair, and the treatments may or may not work.
Your mother, father, brother, sister, husband or friend tell you to get a second opinion. But you feel that because you have been going to your PCP for years, you trust them and hesitate to get a second opinion on your diagnosis. And you also don’t want to go through everything again. However, Getting a second opinion is a practical and acceptable practice that even some PCP’s suggest to their patients. It allows you to take a proactive attitude of your own health.
Getting a second opinion doesn’t mean you have to go through the process again unless there are questions in the original tests. Make an appointment with another reputable team or hospital and they will request all tests from your PCP. Most PCP’s don’t take offense nor do they take it personally. In fact, there are a lot of doctors out there today that encourage a second opinion for the following reason:
1) They are not sure what the result showed definitively
2) If you have an odd type of problem or a rare condition
3) The doctor is not a specialist (or is unfamiliar) with what you were diagnosed with
4) Your having trouble with talking to your Doctor or feeling confused
5) Different doctors or specialists have different approaches to almost every disease and you should always have a choice
Still, some people are still afraid that they might insult their PCPs,so here are some suggestions for you:
1) If you were me and you had this kind of cancer, what would you do? Would you get a second opinion?
2) Listen Doctor x, you have known me for a long time, and I know you won’t mind if I went to get a second opinion.
3) I'm thinking of getting a second opinion, do you have any suggestions (this involves your PCP in your decision).
4) Doctor X, just to cover all my bases including treatment options, I’m going to get a second opinion.
This is your life; you must not only be proactive, but be strong. Any doctor who says no to your request of a second opinion has their own insecurities, but most doctors will help you team up with another specialist and encourage you all the way.
(According to The ACA, here are the following steps you should try in order of getting a second opinion)
Contact your health insurance company to find out if your plan will pay for a second opinion.
•Ask your current doctor or your insurance company to recommend another specialist. Or consult a local hospital or clinic, or a medical association that provides a database of specialty doctors.
•Ask your current doctor’s office – or if you were treated in a hospital, the medical records department – for copies of your records.
Be ready to give the new doctor:
•A copy of your pathology report from any biopsy or surgery
•If you had surgery, a copy of your operative report
•If you were in the hospital, a copy of the discharge summary that every doctor prepares when patients are sent home
•A summary of your doctor’s current treatment plan
•A list of all your drugs, drug doses, and when you took them
After the second opinion:
If the second doctor agrees with the first, you can feel more confident that this is the best treatment plan for you. If the second opinion differs from the first, these are some things you can do next:
•Make an appointment with your first doctor to talk about the second opinion.
•Ask both doctors to explain how they arrived at their treatment plan.
•Ask them how they interpreted your test results.
•Ask what research studies or professional guidelines they consulted. The and have the most current guidelines available for several cancer types.
•Ask what they have recommended to other patients in your same situation.
•Ask if it is possible for the two doctors to review your case together. (Maybe both doctors would even team up together for the long haul!)
Pro activity…………… take your care into your own hands……. This is your life… Live it!!!!!!!