Can I Get a Second Opinion?
Have you ever had a problem that just wasn’t getting better? Seems to be taking longer than expected? Or is it not responding as it had in the past?
Probably most, if not all of us can say yes. Most times this type of thing happens because of factors such as:
There are obviously many factors which can be contributing to each of these. Throughout any health care professional’s career, we will have seen many of these types of cases.
Health care professionals all realize the importance of good communication skills. However like anything in life, this can be a ‘two way street’.
If you are having concerns about any aspect of your health – especially if the condition is not responding as expected – then let your health care professional know. Contrary to popular belief, many of us have not mastered that fine art of ‘mind reading’!
So here are a few hints of things that you should think of, if bringing up such a problem with your health care professional and in particular if you want to inquire about a ‘second opinion’.
So organizing your thoughts and jotting them down is not a bad idea. If you anticipate your health care professional may need extra time to consider your concerns, call ahead and talk to their staff. It is not good for you to feel rushed, nor for your health care professional to feel that he/she does not have sufficient time to fully address your concerns.
Whenever you see your health care professional, please do not leave your concerns to the end of the appointment. An “Oh, by the way…” as your health care professional is leaving the exam room is not the best way to initiate such a conversation. Explain first off, that you have some concerns and you would like to get some feedback or thoughts on the matter.
If your condition is such that your concerns are now very significant and depending on what your health care professional has suggested, you could certainly chat to him/her about getting a second opinion . Sometimes that extra ‘set of eyes’ is not a bad idea. So if you really want a second opinion, give some thought as to how you may want to ask. Being blunt may get you the second opinion that you want but may have an impact on your relationship with your health care professional.
Obviously some health issues are very complicated and an immediate answer to your concerns may not be possible. Your health care professional may want to take some time to review your case and schedule a follow-up appointment to discuss his/her impressions and recommendations. (Think about how thick some of your files may be!)
Depending on how well you know your health care professional, you may want to ask what they would do if they “were in your shoes”. In other words, if they were you, and given your current health issues, what would they do? It’s a fair question but one that, again, may necessitate them taking some time to review your file to think about what recommendations they will provide to you.
If additional testing is to be done, do it promptly (ie. x-rays or blood work) or if for advanced imaging (CT or MRI) follow-up with the specialist’s office or your health care professional to confirm the date.
So – what about that second opinion…sometimes it is a good idea but it does depend on your condition. Be sure to provide your health care professional with all the appropriate information. If your health care professional does not think it is necessary ask them to explain what factors they considered, so that you will have a better understanding and in turn help to allay any concerns you may have. You could also ask for a time parameter as to when the two of you should review the situation if your condition does not improve.
Hopefully these hints will help you better communicate with your health care professional.
Reprinted with permission of