A serious medical diagnosis can be upsetting. Your first thoughts may be to ignore your health or, conversely, to immediately do whatever the doctor recommends so that you can be done with your health issues as soon as possible. However, neither of these are likely to be the best response.
For any serious medical condition or one that will require a lengthy course of treatment, it's important for many reasons to get the opinion of a second doctor. You shouldn't be afraid that your primary physician will be upset by your getting a second opinion. The Cleveland Clinic stresses that individuals are their own best health advocates and should seek as much information about their health issues as they can get.
Why a second opinion is important
To prevent a misdiagnosis. Doctors are human, just like the rest of us, and even the best doctor isn't correct in his or her diagnosis 100 percent of the time. Getting a second opinion helps to make sure that the time and money you'll be spending on medical treatment will actually benefit you (and not potentially harm you). A misdiagnosis isn't an occasional thing, According to CBS News, more than 12 million Americans are misdiagnosed each year.
To make sure that the proposed treatment plan is the best for you. It's not just the diagnosis that's subject to interpretation. Different doctors may propose different courses of treatment. Getting a second opinion that reinforces your primary doctor's opinion will help you have confidence in the treatment you'll be receiving.
To make sure your health insurance covers everything. An increasing number of insurance companies are requiring that patients get a second medical opinion when surgery or extensive (and expensive) treatment is proposed.
To become more informed about your medical condition. Another benefit of getting a second medical opinion is that you'll likely learn more about what's going on with your body and your health. The more information you gather, the less anxious you and your family are likely to be and the more you'll be able to participate in your ongoing health care.
While going to see a second doctor after a serious medical diagnosis may not seem like much fun, taking this action can help prevent a misdiagnosis (and extensive, unnecessary medical treatment), help you to have confidence that the treatment you're getting is the best plan for your diagnosis, and allow you to learn more about your health condition and diagnosis.