Five reasons to seek a second opinion

28th June 2013

Fletchers Solicitors know from experience that it can be devastating to ignore those instincts which tell you to investigate something further or to seek out independent advice. Seeking a second opinion, and having a culture of openness, should be encouraged to improve patient care. Here we discuss some of the key motivations behind a second medical opinion to help you make an informed decision for yourself:

Doubting a diagnosis
It’s common to question information you hear from doctors and other healthcare professionals. Unless you are a doctor yourself, it’s likely you’ll feel removed from the process of a diagnosis, and crave information to better understand the recommended course of action. All of these reactions are normal and you shouldn’t feel you have to accept everything you’ve heard at face value. Sometimes a second opinion will simply help to validate the first, but it can also be important to help you feel confident in your decisions.

Have you been heard?
We know that health services are often stretched, overworked and understaffed. Unfortunately this means misdiagnosis or missed diagnosis are stark realities any patient can encounter. If you are not satisfied that the answers you have been given fully address your medical needs, make a follow-up appointment with your doctor to voice these concerns. They might refer to a colleague on a complicated issue, or even encourage your decision to seek a second opinion.

Know your options
While you can’t believe everything you read, it is sometimes the case that a treatment exists which might be of benefit to you that your doctor is not familiar with or does not endorse. The treatment that works for you might not necessarily suit another person in the same condition, and vice versa. Discuss treatment concerns with your consulting physician. If there is more than one treatment option available, a second opinion can help you decide which is best to pursue. Another doctor may also be able to refer you to someone who specialises in the kind of treatment you’d prefer.

The human element
Even where the duty of care owed to you as a patient is fulfilled, if you aren’t at ease talking with the person overseeing your treatment, your recovery may be compromised. It’s worthwhile seeking a second opinion to find a doctor you feel comfortable dealing with. You might get on better with someone else and have more confidence in the decisions they make about your health. If you’ve been given a life changing diagnosis, it’s especially vital that the doctor is the right one for you.

Owning your health
Whatever your diagnosis, whether you’ve been seriously injured or are facing a cancer diagnosis, for instance, you are always entitled to a second medical opinion. A good doctor will appreciate that you are interested in your own wellbeing, and that a second opinion is not a threat but an important part of the healthcare process. Most physicians encourage second or even third opinions and may be able to recommend you one.

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