Will my doctor hate me? Not at all! “A lot of people think that if they want a second opinion, their physician will be offended,” says neurologist Orly Avitzur, MD, medical adviser at Consumer Reports. “But when a patient tells me she wishes to talk to another doctor, I try to be as helpful as possible. A fresh set of eyes on a diagnosis can never hurt, and I want my patients to see me as an ally in their healthcare, not a hindrance.”
Where do I even start looking? If your diagnosis came from your primary care physician (which is often the case), ask her to refer you to a specialist at a different practice. You want to do some searching on your own, Vitals.com offers physician information and patient reviews. But before you settle on a new doc, ask a few important questions: “If you’re having surgery, find out how many similar operations the doctor has done, as well as their complication and success rates. You want to make sure your case matches her area of expertise.”
Will I have to go through the same tests all over again? In most instances, you won’t. Obtaining a second opinion can be as simple as asking a different doctor to review your original scans if you’ve undergone screening tests like an MRI or a mammogram. “Just ask, ‘Can I have a digital copy of my scans and lab results?’ and the technician will give them to you.
What if I can’t find another specialist in my town? If you live in an area with few medical providers, you can take advantage of e–second opinions, which are offered by major hospitals like Johns Hopkins and the Cleveland Clinic. You send in your medical records, slides or scans, and a doctor will review them and email you a report of the findings.