If you have received some disturbing news about your health, you probably have some serious decisions to make. Too many people blindly accept the information they have been given by their doctor. You need to know that it is your right to get a second medical opinion. It is your body, your life and your family that is impacted if you are seriously ill. What are the steps that you should take immediately after being informed of your medical condition?
Is There Time To Consider What Path to Take?
Unless your condition is an immediate threat to your life, you have every right to tell your doctor that you need some time to think about what you have just been told. It is not necessary for you to tell the doctor that you plan to get another opinion.
Does Your Health Insurance Policy Require Second Opinions?
Not only are other medical opinions your right, they make good sense. That is why a significant number of health insurance policies require you to get more than one opinion.
You May Have Additional Choices to Make
Many good doctors will encourage their patients to get a second opinion. They may even recommend someone to you. Your doctor may know of another doctor that takes a different approach to the health problem you have. It is your decision as to where, and from whom, you get another opinion. Never let someone make this kind of decision for you. You may be able to find out about other medical procedures, other medications, or even find out that the initial diagnosis was wrong.
How to Start Getting Additional Medical Opinions
There are several ways to get the name of another doctor, for a second opinion. Here are a few ideas to consider.
– Ask the doctor who gave you the first opinion.
– Ask your health insurance company for their advice.
– Ask the local university medical center for assistance to confirm your diagnosis.
– Check online for a list of specialists who work in a related area.
– Get a list of local physicians at your local library.
Preparing for Your Second Opinion
As soon as you have made the decision to obtain additional medical opinions, ask your doctor’s office for a complete copy of your medical information. They may offer to forward the files to a doctor of your choice. If you are okay with that, give them permission. Many people believe it is best if they take the files with them to the doctor being asked for the second opinion. This saves time and eliminates anxiety and worry about when, and if, the files will be transferred. Be prepared to pay a nominal fee for the transfer of records; some offices require this.
Make a list of specific questions. Certainly, since you received the news on your health, you have had a lot of questions race through your mind. Write these down and be ready to ask the second doctor for his thoughts on your questions. You should also submit these questions to your first doctor for his response.
After the Second Opinion
Once you have your second opinion, you will need to consider all the information. Then you can decide on which direction seems best for you. If you decide to take the advice of the second doctor, make sure you inform the office of the first doctor. You also need to inform your insurance company about your decision. With appropriate research and planning you are sure to find the best medical match for your treatment needs.
Katherine Johnson is a retired nurse practitioner and blogger who enjoys helping her readers make informed decisions about their healthcare. She offers more expert advice on an online Guide to Healthcare Management.