There have been a lot of discussions lately about getting a second opinion. I hope that this posting is helpful.
A second opinion is when you see another doctor or healthcare provider for their opinion on your diagnosis and treatment. Usually it means you’ll see a different hospital or community specialist (such as a GP or hospital consultant) from your current one.
You might seek a second opinion if you're concerned about your diagnosis or the treatment you’ve been recommended. Anyone can ask for a second opinion. You can have one on the NHS so you don’t have to pay, or you can choose to have one privately.
Some of the reasons for requesting a second opinion:
You may have doubt about your diagnosis/
You may not understand the information you've been giving.
You may not be happy with the treatment that is recommended.
You may not feel you can talk to your to your doctor or specialist about your diagnosis and treatment.
You may need to confirm that the treatment/s you are receiving is the right treatment for you.
Before asking for a second opinion, it’s worth asking your GP or consultant to go over your diagnosis and explain anything you don't understand. If you're unhappy with your diagnosis or would like to consider a different course of treatment, discuss this with them. Your GP or consultant should be happy to explain things and in many cases there may be no need for a second opinion.
Some of the advantages and disadvantages which you may want to think about before you decide whether you want a second opinion.
If both doctors are in agreement about your diagnosis and treatment this will help you feel more confident about their decision.
You may find that you get on better with a different doctor and have more confidence in what they say.
You may be offered a treatment that has not been suggested before, or a newer treatment that’s part of a clinical trial
You may be offered a wider choice of treatments by the second doctor, so you can decide which treatment to have.
Having a second opinion doesn't mean you'll be seen or treated more quickly than anyone else. Your treatment may be delayed by waiting to see another consultant. The person you see for a second opinion will also need to get information from your first doctor, which can delay treatment. You may need to think carefully about having a second opinion if a delay is likely to be harmful to you or reduce your chances of successful treatment.
You may find it upsetting being told the same - or different - news about your diagnosis and treatment if it’s not what you were hoping for.
If you're offered a different treatment, you may be asked to decide which treatment to have. Some people find this difficult and worry about whether they will make the right decision. However, it’s important to remember that there’s no right or wrong decision.
You may have to travel some distance to a different hospital to see another specialist and you may then need to have your treatment at that hospital. This might not be easy for you or your family and may mean you have extra travelling costs.
How to get a second opinion?
If you want a second opinion from a GP, you can ask to see another GP at your surgery or you could consider changing your surgery. You may want to discuss this with the practice manager.
There are different ways of seeking a second opinion from a hospital consultant or specialist. You can ask your GP to refer you to another consultant or specialist, either on the NHS or privately. Or you can ask your current consultant or specialist to refer you for a second opinion. People often worry that this will upset the specialist or that they will be seen as a bad patient. However, many doctors, consultants or other specialists will be happy to refer you for a second opinion if it will be helpful.
Relatives and carers can also request a second opinion on your behalf, but only with your consent. Some people do their own research to find the name of a consultant they think they'd like to see.
When you are referred for a second opinion, any relevant medical information will be sent to the new doctor or specialist. This information will include your scan, test results and any previous treatments.
If, after your second opinion, you want the second doctor, consultant or specialist to treat you, this will have to be formally arranged with them.
With this information if you decide to get a second opinion. It can help to prepare for your appointment by thinking about what you want to get out of it. You could write down some questions and take them with you. It can also help to have someone else go with you.
Here are some questions you may want to ask:
If the second opinion differs from the original one, why?
Are there other treatments I could have?
Do I need any treatment?
What are the side effects of these other treatments?
What impact might the treatments have on my life?
How might other treatments improve my health?
How long will I need to be treated for?
Will I need to have my treatment at another hospital?
Difficulty getting a referral for a second opinion
If for some reason you find it difficult to get a referral for a second opinion, the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) in your local hospital may be able to help. You can get the phone number of your PALS team from the hospital switchboard. Alternatively, your local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) may be able to advise you. Other organisations and resources include: Macmillan Cancer Support, NHS choices, The Patients Association.
If you would like more information, please call the Ovacome Support Line 0845 371 0554, Monday to Friday between 10am -5pm. Or you can visit our website at ovacome.org.uk.
Support Line Nurse