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Getting a Second Opinion for a Medical Decision

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What is a second medical opinion?

If you are facing an important medical decision, such as a limb amputation or cancer treatment, you may want to seek out a second medical opinion for your treatment options. According to the Harvard Medical School, doctors generally welcome having their patients seek second opinions. The American Cancer Society affirms that most doctors understand the value of second opinions and are not offended when a patient wants one. According to Stanford Health Care, a second opinion can help you make an informed decision about the best treatment for your condition while weighing the risks and benefits.

When should I seek a second medical opinion?

Second opinions should generally only be obtained for non-emergency medical procedures. According to Stanford Health Care, in the case of emergency surgeries, the surgery should be performed as quickly as possible without delay for a second opinion. According to the American Cancer Society, most cancer treatment decisions do not need to be made right away, which means you could have time to seek a second opinion. A second opinion can help you:

  • Have more certainty about your diagnosis and prognosis
  • Be sure you have explored all your options
  • Be sure your condition is not being underestimated or overestimated
  • Clarify your diagnosis if your condition is rare or unusual
  • Seek a specialist if your doctor is not specialist for your condition
  • Decide among treatment options
  • Get peace of mind

How should I seek a second opinion?

Your first medical opinion may be from your primary care doctor and the second opinion may be from a specialist. Before you see the doctor offering the second opinion, contact her office and ask what medical records you should provide. This can save the second physician from repeating tests and procedures. The American Cancer Society recommends taking notes on what your doctor says and taking a family member or friend with you to the appointment. You can even ask the doctor who gave you a first opinion to give you a recommendation for a doctor to give you a second opinion. You may also seek out another doctor through:

Do you have questions about Medicare coverage of a second opinion?

According to the Harvard Medical School, second opinions can lead to less expensive treatments, giving insurers an incentive to encourage second opinions. Learn more about Medicare coverage of second opinions.  To see some plans in your area you may be eligible for, please click the “Get Quotes” button.

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