How many reviews do you read before going to a restaurant? How many shoes do you try on before buying that perfect pair? How many cars do you test-drive before buying one? How many people do you consult before investing your money? We ask for second opinions all the time. Why then shouldn’t we do the same when we are contemplating something as big as going under the knife?
Many patients shy away from asking for a second opinion because they feel they might offend the surgeon. The truth is that all surgeons are aware of this practice and some even recommend it themselves. It is you who is having surgery and it is you who has the right to ask for as many opinions as you like. Another reason patients may hesitate to ask for a second opinion is because they feel it will be an additional unnecessary cost.
When to ask for a Second Opinion: Having concerns about the cost may seem valid initially but you must remember that this is your health and well-being we are talking about. If at any point your gut instinct tells you to seek another opinion, do it. The additional cost will not be a patch on the amount of regret you may feel later.
Consider getting a second opinion when your goals don’t match with your doctors. For example, if you are looking for alternatives to surgery but your doctor insists that surgery is the only option, get a second opinion. Or if your doctor is unable to clarify any doubts you may have on the procedure and is not able to reassure you for any reason, get a second opinion. Only when you are feeling a hundred-percent confident, should you agree to surgery.
When not to ask for a Second Opinion: Time is of the essence when it comes to medical procedures. If you are in an emergency situation where waiting for a second opinion could be dangerous or life-threatening, don’t do it. Traumatic injuries such as suspected organ damage or internal bleeding are possible situations where you shouldn’t wait for a second opinion. If you are in such a situation but you still want another opinion, consider asking the hospital if there is another specialist present who can attend to you quickly.
How to ask for a Second Opinion: Some patients are upfront with their doctors, while others prefer not to mention that they want a second opinion. You are under no obligation to discuss the opinion with anyone apart from the person suggesting it.
If you do choose to discuss it with your current doctor, s/he may recommend someone they look up to or they are familiar with. Even in this scenario though, you do not need to use this recommendation unless you want too.
When looking for a second opinion, choose a doctor who has the correct expertise for your case. Now that you understand your problem better, this should be easier. Be upfront with the new doctor about the earlier diagnosis. Ask for his/her opinion on it. You can even ask both your doctors to have a discussion and come to a consensus.
Getting a second opinion is only a process of educating yourself in order to make an informed decision. At the Spinalogy Clinic, surgery is the very last option. Most of the problems we deal with can be treated without surgery. If you have been recommended surgery for a joint, orthopedic or spine condition, pay us a visit. We may be able to keep you away from surgery.
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