Monday, May 07, 2012

How to get a second opinion

I often encourage my patients to get a second opinion when they are not sure as to what to do next. Sometimes , it's obvious they are not very happy with the advice which I give them , and it helps if they get a second perspective from an independent physician . I'm quite happy to suggest names of physicians whom I respect , so they can get a useful second opinion ; or I tell them that they can find someone on their own.

I make it a point to document all my findings and explain the rationale for my opinion , so that they can then have a more intelligent conversation with the next doctor , who can then give them a better and more thoughtful second opinion.

Asking for a second opinion doesn't mean that they don't trust me . It just means that they need to be sure that they've covered all their bases and have explored all their options , rather than prematurely pursuing the treatment which I suggest, when there may be other alternatives which may be better suited for them.

This is better for me as well , because I don't claim that I have a monopoly on wisdom. I am quite happy to work with my patients , in order to craft a treatment plan which is in my patient's best interests.

If the second opinion is very similar to mine, this leads to the patient having more confidence in my judgment, so that they are more willing to trust me. However, if they choose to go down a different treatment path , that's fine too. This allows me to learn ; and helps me to fill up gaps in my knowledge base.

It's important that patients trust their doctors, but doctors need to earn this trust. The rule is simple - you should trust your doctor , but you should also verify independently that what you doctor is telling you makes sense !

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