Why Second Opinions Matter

doctor visit

We often consider the worst case scenario to be that big reveal: a self-breast exam revealing a lump, a cholesterol blood test uncovering a not-so-healthy heart, or a pap smear that's not quite as normal as you expected. Then, your doctor pops in and tells you not to worry; the mammogram is benign, your cholesterol levels probably just spiked a bit, or your pap smear is nothing to stress about. Our doctor’s words may often bring the peace of mind that we crave, but especially as we age, settling for one physician’s opinion may not be in our best interest! Take a look below at the reasons why you should ask for a second opinion when it comes to the big questions!

It will give you peace of mind. Think about it: When we look up a new recipe, we typically select the one that has the most positive reviews and feedback; the tried and true approach, if you will. Asking for a second opinion when it comes to your health will help put your mind at ease in a stressful situation. Your questions and concerns are less likely to slip through the cracks when you consult an additional physician, and the different personalities and approaches may help you work through any confusion you may be experiencing.

You will experience greater control. It is essential to remember that this is your body and your wellbeing that are being discussed and analyzed, and your opinions are an absolutely vital part of the process! If you find that one doctor’s treatment or care options are not compatible with your beliefs or lifestyle, then seeking out further information from a specialist who is more in tune with you will increase your comfort levels and help you manage your situation in a way that nurtures your attitudes.

breast exam

Doctors encourage other opinions. Contrary to popular belief, most physicians will actually encourage you to reach out to other physicians or specialists during a diagnosis or treatment. A reliable doctor will respect and appreciate your right to be as informed as possible, and will typically reach out to other professionals in order to provide you with more information about any unclear medical care options. Keep in mind that opinions will differ between doctors, but that does not mean that one doctor is correct and the other is not. The patient often heavily influences the treatment, so knowing your comfort zone and expectations is key to feeling good about your decisions!

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Medicine is not an exact science. Now this may sound threatening, especially to someone who has been recently diagnosed, but our intent is to illustrate that a second opinion can only help your case. The more opinions you seek, the more information you will gain, and knowledge is power, right? There are usually a vast amount of treatment options available to you, and consulting with more than one doctor could open up doors for you that you never even anticipated. Science is not set in stone, so keeping an open mind will allow you to design a treatment plan that suits your lifestyle.

couple with doctor

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A Gallup Poll panel survey of 5,000 Americans revealed that only about three percent of people seek a second opinion after they have been diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening condition. Nearly 50 percent of the responders said that they never asked another specialist for advice regarding treatment, medication or an operation. Regardless of whether you trust your doctor, reaching out to another specialist could give you access to options you did not even know existed! Don’t be afraid of information; it can only open more doors! For more information, please check out our sources: Gallup, Huffington Post, Patient Advocate Foundation.