Getting a Second Opinion
Getting a second opinion is standard medical practice these
days. There are millions of surgical procedures performed
in the United States every year and the majority of these
operations are necessary for the health and well being of
the patient. But, according to recent studies, a percentage
of surgeries may be unnecessary.
Many people are now seeking second opinions, especially
when it comes to elective surgery procedures. Also some insurance
companies are encouraging second opinions for surgical procedures
and more people than ever are beginning to take an active
role in their health care options.
Based on all of the surgeries performed, one can conclude
that overall we have a good system. However, we still hear
of horror stories and botched operations from time to time,
both in this country and around the world.
A second medical opinion can save you time and money, and
it is possible that the condition in question can be treated
by means other than surgery. Your doctor's approach to treating
your condition is influenced by his training, experience,
and exposure to new techniques. Getting a second opinion is
standard medical practice, and you will find that most physicians
welcome second and even third opinions. You can be candid
and open with your physician about this as you tell him your
feelings and how much more comfortable you'd feel getting
another doctor's opinion.
If you decide to get a second medical opinion on a surgical
procedure, you may wish to ask your doctor to refer a colleague
or specialist. If you'd rather seek out another doctor yourself,
you can take the matter up with your local medical society
or area medical school.
When you go to a second doctor, tell him or her the name
of the recommended surgical procedure and do over the various
tests you have already had. This can save you the unnecessary
expense of running duplicate medical tests. If the second
doctor agrees that the surgery is necessary, he or she will
usually send you back to the first doctor. If you make the
decision to have the recommended surgery, there are a number
of questions you may like to have answered such as from what
medical school did the surgeon graduate, and in what specialty
did the surgeon complete an accredited residency program.
You might also want to inquire as to how many operations like
yours the particular surgeon has performed and how many of
those patients have required additional surgery.
A good indicator of a surgeon's competence is certification
by the American Board of Medical Specialties. The letters
F.A.C.S. (Fellow of the American College of Surgeons) after
the surgeon's name is another sign of a surgeon's qualifications.
Once you are comfortable with your choice of a surgeon,
find out what your options are. Ask about possible risks,
complications and side effects, and the length of the recovery
period. Talk to others who have had the same procedure. Also,
don't forget to check with your insurance company to learn
if the surgical procedure is covered under your policy, and
if so, whether it is covered as in-patient or out-patient
surgery. Remember, you deserve to be informed of all your
health care options, especially when it involves a surgical