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The value of second medical opinions

Many people might know family members, friends or colleagues who have sought a second medical opinion for a variety of reasons.

People may make this choice after their first physician repeatedly tells them nothing is wrong with them, yet they continue to experience problems and symptoms. Other people may choose to get additional input after receiving a specific diagnosis and associated treatment recommendations. In a range of situations, getting a second opinion may prove invaluable to patients and their family members.

When to seek a second medical opinion

People should always feel free to consult with another doctor when it comes to their personal health. The American Cancer Society notes that some specific situations may especially warrant this effort. These include times when a first doctor recommends a highly invasive, risky or experimental treatment. A second medical opinion may help people diagnosed with rare conditions or who have multiple treatment options from which to choose.

Some benefits of a second opinion

A second medical opinion may bring to light information or a diagnosis that had previously been missed. It may also confirm an initial diagnosis and make a patient feel more secure. As WebMD explains, different doctors and health care systems may approach treatments in different ways, with some being more apt to rush into aggressive treatments while others may prefer to wait before taking action. A second opinion allows a patient to find the approach that fits their needs.

Preparing for a second opinion

Before meeting with a new doctor, patients should collect all of their prior medical records and provide those to the new doctor. Making a list of questions before the appointment can also be helpful.