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Get a Second Opinion

By AWHONN Editorial Staff

Get a Second Opinion

You may feel uncomfortable checking up on your healthcare provider by getting another opinion but research shows you’ll be doing yourself a big favor—increasing your chances of getting the best possible treatment by as much as 30%! You can even get a second opinion during pregnancy.

Know Your Choices

When faced with a big medical decision, “always get a second opinion,” say the YOU Docs, Mehmet Oz, MD, and Michael Roizen, MD, authors of You: The Smart Patient. In fact, they devote a whole chapter of their New York Times bestseller on how to do it.

A second opinion is when you get another healthcare expert to give you advice about your existing medical records, your condition and how it should be treated. And a second opinion should always include an in-person exam as well as a records review, the YOU Docs stress.

A second look is important because even though healthcare providers may get similar education and training, they have their own opinions and thoughts about how to provide care. Some providers are more conservative while others are more progressive, using the newest tests and therapies, say the experts at the National Women’s Health Information Center.

Circle Back

The more options you have, the better the healthcare choices you can make, experts say. And in getting additional opinions, it’s always good to circle back for a full discussion with your primary healthcare provider in making your treatment choices. If the advice from your primary and secondary providers are in conflict, repeat these steps for a third opinion. And don’t worry about hurting your healthcare provider’s feelings—most welcome another set of eyes and additional advice, particularly if surgery or a long treatment is involved.

How It’s Done

  • Get Referrals: Ask your healthcare provider and friends with similar conditions for referrals; you may even find specialists outside of your area through online advocacy groups for your condition.
  • Check your insurance: Learn what is and isn’t covered.
  • Send your records to the second provider: You will need to do this in writing; ask your primary care provider if they have a form their office uses for records requests. Consider requesting a copy of your records for your own reference; some offices charge for this service.
  • Be an informed patient: Learn as much as you can. Visit a medical library, go to reputable health sources online, typically a government (.gov), teaching (.edu) or non-profit (.org) source will provide expert-based, reliable information. Make a list of your questions and thoughts and bring them when you see a provider.
  • Be seen in person: Don’t rely a records check alone without an examination. You may be asked to have additional tests or procedures.

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