Second Medical Opinion

What is a second medical opinion?

A second medical opinion occurs when you consult with a physician who is not your regular primary care physician about a possible diagnosis and/or treatment plan. There is no legal right to a second opinion, although it is rare for a physician to refuse.

There are different reasons to ask for a second medical opinion from a doctor

Why would you ask for a second medical opinion?

Patients may opt for a second medical opinion if they are faced with a new diagnosis or recommended treatment because sometimes this can cause confusion and a second opinion can reassure them.

In addition, there are certain situations where a second medical opinion is often sought:

  • If the potential treatment is risky and life-changing or if the diagnosis is life-threatening.
  • If the diagnosis is unclear
  • If you are considering a new experimental treatment approach.

The objectives for obtaining a second medical opinion are:

  • To confirm whether a diagnosis is correct and/or appropriate.
  • To confirm whether a proposed treatment is correct and/or appropriate.
  • To compare the information received from each physician and thus be able to make an educated decision, sometimes a second medical opinion can rule out the need to undergo a possible unnecessary invasive procedure.

The possible disadvantages of seeking a second medical opinion are:

  • The process may delay the start of treatment.
  • Visiting another specialist can be difficult and time consuming.
  • It can be stressful to hear the same diagnosis again.

How would you get a second medical opinion?

You can request a second medical opinion from your primary care physician or specialist, but before doing so it is advisable that you request both clarification and explanation about the initial diagnosis and treatment before seeking a second opinion. Obtaining a second medical opinion does not mean that the second physician will take over, if that is what the patient decides, then this should be formally agreed between the physicians and hospitals.