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How and when to seek a second medical opinion

Receiving a serious diagnosis or repeatedly being told by a doctor that nothing is wrong despite experiencing symptoms that simply will not go away may prompt a person to feel like they want to consult with another provider.

Many situations warrant a second medical opinion and seeking one is something every patient should feel empowered to do. Knowing when and how to do this can be important.

Situations prompting a second opinion

The American Cancer Society explains that a person may reasonably wish to seek a second medical opinion after a first physician recommends a very risky, experimental or otherwise invasive course of treatment. Some diagnoses may lack clarity or be difficult for a person to understanding, creating yet another scenario appropriate for a second opinion.

When a doctor fails to provide any reason for a person’s ongoing issues, the patient may opt to consult with another doctor in the hopes of properly identifying and addressing their health problems.

Benefits of a second medical opinion

Some patients find that a second opinion confirms the diagnosis and recommendation from a first doctor. This may serve to provide a sense of faith and trust that helps them. For other patients, a new doctor may uncover the root of a problem that a first physician missed altogether.

Preparing for a second opinion

The Mayo Clinic recommends patients prepare well before meeting with a new doctor. This includes making a list of questions and sending all health records to the new physician. The second doctor should evaluate the same data the first doctor had access to.

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