At least once in a patient’s life, a difficult medical decision needs to be made, especially in cases where a conservative versus an invasive strategy are both reasonable options. Unfortunately up to 70% of patients do not seek a second opinion.
Uneasiness about requesting one from their primary provider, perhaps fearing repercussions, should not prevent a patient from obtaining a second opinion. A prudent caring physician should welcome and even encourage a patient’s request, providing all pertinent medical records. Most insurers support second opinions.
A second opinion is also important in that a patient may voice personal priorities such as surgical and medication complications and side effects, recovery time, need and length of rehabilitation, time to return to work, short and long term physical and cognitive limitations and long term outcomes of a conservative versus an invasive approach.
When seeking a second opinion, it is ideal to consult with a provider that does not work for the same corporate medical institution or the same group. In today’s medical system, eliminating a bias and or an economic incentive is imperative.
In cardiovascular disease second opinions should be routine and I encourage patients to feel comfortable in seeking another provider’s input!