How many dealers did you visit before you bought a car? Were you happy with the first quote you got for your kitchen renovation work? Did you assign the job to the first contractor who gave you his costings for upgrading your office?
When it comes to your finances, your home, your work or your belongings, it makes sense to do your research, shop around and ensure that you’re getting the best advice. But are you as rigorous and cautious when it comes to your health? Have you ever considered the value that a second medical opinion can bring to your table?
Interestingly, in the case of this gentleman, a second medical opinion saved his life. While visiting Malaysia for a hernia operation, the specialists at the hospital discovered that his heart was severely blocked, a heart attack was imminent, he should do an ECG first and only then could the hernia issue be addressed. Evaluating this information and his choices, the patient flew back to his home country, showed the diagnosis for a second opinion to his existing treatment professional who ratified his condition with the result that he flew back to Malaysia, completed the angioplasty and returned back to his country in a much healthier condition.
So if you’re someone who hasn’t ever considered a second medical opinion or are sitting on the fringes to make up your mind to do so, you must understand that patients who seek a second opinion do not necessarily think their diagnosis is incorrect nor do they essentially disagree with the recommended treatment. In other words, most patients, through a second medical opinion, seek genuine information in a readily understandable form. They may be unhappy with the way their diagnosis and treatment recommendations were communicated to them and they may be solely seeking a clearer explanation or a doctor with whom they feel they can share a better rapport with.
A second medical opinion is your right
In order to get the best outcome from a second opinion, it is important to first negotiate the issues of power and autonomy in your relationship with your health professional. As a patient, it is your right to seek advice and to be in-charge of what happens to your body.
Respect for autonomy is drummed into health professionals because the power balance in the specialist-patient relationship generally vests in favour of the specialist. Ideally, your medical professional has to put you in a zone where you are treated as a partner and collaborator in the process of being treated and the journey towards healing and health. In this context, your opinions and preferences should be respected and honoured, regardless of the option you choose to take.
It is understandable that many patients are resolutely loyal to their practitioners under any circumstances, so much so that the concept of a ‘family doctor’ is prevalent in most families. Such people usually feel that a second medical opinion is almost synonymous with betrayal or a breach of trustand wouldn’t think about it even for a second time unless they have fallen out completely with their existing doctor.
On the other hand, it has been observed that those on the other side of the equation (doctors, specialists, clinicians, etc.), especially those who are well-experienced, welcome the chance to have a fresh opinion on an existing issue and, as such, they are happy to cooperate and provide all the information necessary for the appraisal and judgement of a second-opinion doctor.
Hence, it is important to understand that getting a second medical opinion is not akin to a betrayal or a breach of trust.
The value of a second medical opinion
When your healthcare provider recommends surgery or a major procedure or treatment, it’s smart to get a second opinion from another expert. But, how do you know a second opinion is in order? And how do you go about getting one?
Here are some answers.
If you choose to go for a second opinion, it’s a good rule to ask a doctor with at least the same level of knowledge of your health condition, as your current healthcare provider. Consider contacting a specialist. Your current healthcare provider may be able to suggest someone.Even better, ask someone at an institution specialising in your condition, like a cancer treatment centre or a heart surgery centre. These centres will normally have a team of experts readily available to review your case.
Hence, it makes sense to get a second opinion when you face a medical condition that is life-changing or even life-threatening, which can help you:
Become a more educated healthcare consumer
- Confirm that your diagnosis is appropriate
- Confirm that the recommended treatment is appropriate
- Compare outcomes of the treatments you are offered
Ultimately, a second opinion can help you make the best decisions for your health and hence, is in your own interest.
So how should you approach a second medical opinion?These questions offer a good place to start:
- Is the diagnosis correct?
- What are my choicesand the pros and cons of each?
- What would happen if I wait or chose no treatment?
- What should I do with the results?
If the second healthcare provider agrees with the first, you can move forward with more confidence. So generally, this should be your approach to a second medical opinion.
Here are some more tips:
1: Let your regular doctor know. It will help preserve your long-term relationship and ensure that the new one you are seeing can get all the information they need to make their evaluation.
2: Be clear about the reason for the second opinion. If the second medical opinion is different from the first, are you ready to re-think the prevailing diagnosis or treatment plan? Hearteningly, several studies have indicated that the second-opinion specialists tended to choose treatment plans with greater intervention if they knew there was a pre-existing, more conservative opinion.
3: Be open with the new healthcare professional. If you are one of those who is seeking a second medical opinion for want of better communication with your caregiver, it would be reasonable to assume that you will be more satisfied with a clinician you can relate to well.
4: Second opinions tend to lead to spending more time and effort, especially if you have to travel long or fairly long distances. You may feel more obliged to follow the second advice you’ve gone for, spending so much effort to obtain it. Hence, it is advisable to take your time to consider the second opinion as carefully as you did the first.
Sometimes, medical specialists themselves push you for a second opinion and that’s not a bad thing.
There are certain sets of doctors/clinicians who can be categorised as per the following behavioural traits.
Some are those who come from the totalitarian era of ‘doctor knows the best’and regard informed patients with misgiving and suspicion. Yet again, there are those with authoritarianpersonalities and their verdict (almost dictatorial) is expected to be considered as the final truth. The other set comprises those medical practitioners who are so stressed or so busy that they react with frustration or anger to a request from a patient for extra information or time to consider their options.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are those who falter or are wayward in terms of assuming even basic duties of a caregiver. With this set, the balance is completely towards patient autonomyand they seem to feel no genuine responsibility on their part to advise or motivate their patients. For them, once the patient is out of sight, s/he is usually out of their mind.
Hence, if your first-opinion doctor seems to react rather poorly or not at all to your requests, a second opinion might be exactly what they wrote invisibly in your prescription and that’s a good thing.
So if you are a patient, or if you know someone who is a patient, refer them to GD Assist. GD Assist has launched Second Medical Opinion (SMO) services in association with Assist America, Inc. and this service has been introduced in Bangladesh directly from the US. This alliance is aligned with the company’s focus on working towards the objective of delivering international-grade healthcare facilities at the doorstep of the people of Bangladesh, at an affordable cost.
Remember then. In some cases, a second opinion can be your bridge between life and death, especially for grave, complex and critical illnesses.
So, call GD Assist today for an appointment.
Hotline: 16457; +8801617666888