Am I cheating on my doctor if I get a second opinion?

This Entry was written by Evelyn Robles – Rodriguez, speaker at tonight’s networking meeting: Coping with Treatment: One Side Effect at a Time:

As a nurse and patient advocate, I strongly recommend that patients obtain second opinions; whether about their diagnosis or their plan of treatment.  Cost is often not an issue as most insurance companies will cover second opinions.   Like my old self, however, patients may hesitate to do this. It is not that they don’t want the second opinion, but that they don’t want their doctor to get upset or angry, or they don’t want to be separated from their care. 

Some years ago I had a dilemma.  My  daughter was diagnosed with an illness that required specialized medical care.  Because of the urgency of the situation, I took the advice of her pediatrician and saw the specialist that she recommended.  My husband and I liked the specialist; she seemed very bright and knowledgeable, and she had a wonderful bedside manner.  My daughter also liked her.  Most importantly, she was highly recommended, a Top Doc in her field.

Still, I wanted a second opinion.  How would I tell this wonderful specialist I wanted to hear someone else’s opinion?  Would she be offended?  Would she not want to continue to care for my daughter?  Would she treat us differently?

What I have learned is that doctors who are sure of their expertise and care are not afraid of second opinions.  In fact, they encourage them.  As good physicians have come to realize, patients who go for a second opinion are not necessarily looking for another doctor, they are simply obtaining reassurance that the information or recommendation that has been given to them is correct or the best choice for them. 

Eventually, I explained to the specialist that we had an appointment for a second opinion.  She smiled and told me that the person we would be seeing was an old colleague.  She told us how wonderful he was and asked that we’d send him her best.  We returned to her care after seeing the second specialist with the reassurance that the care she recommended was the right care for our daughter.

It is important that you voice your interest in a second opinion to your doctor.  You don’t need to sneak around.  Most good doctors will help guide you to renown specialists you can see for a second opinion.  They can also let you know how much time you have to obtain these opinions and to safely decide on a treatment option.  If your doctor is upset about your request for a second opinion, he or she may not be the right doctor for you.

In life, we get second , third, and fourth opinions regarding important things in our lives as well as more mundane things.  What college choice is best for me?  Should we pierce our baby’s ear?  What clothes should I wear to that special event?  Where is the best town to live?  Do these shoes make my legs look fat? 

If these additional opinions are so important to us in our daily living, imagine their importance when facing a life-threatening disease.  Empower yourself with a second opinion if that is important to you.  It can help erase doubts and lift your confidence in your treatment team and plan of care.  And no, you will not be cheating on your doctor.  You will instead probably forge a lasting relationship.

It’s not too late to register for tonight’s FREE networking meeting: Coping with Treatment: One Side Effect at a Time.

5 thoughts on “Am I cheating on my doctor if I get a second opinion?

  1. I couldn’t agree more. Doctors who are confident of their knowledge and expertise usually do not get offended or threatened. They want to do the best for their patients and understand the peace of mind the second opinion brings.

    When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was refereed to a wonderful oncologist. We hit it off from the first visit. But I still went to see another doctor once we came up with the treatment plan. My oncologist was pleased I did this. He told me that he, himself, would do the very same if he were in my shoes.

  2. I think a second opinion is smart in most situations. I was misdiagnosed w/BC, I wish I had a second opinion! And now my daughter has a serious condition and I went for several opinions. Especially when you are dealing with a life long condition. Get a doctor you like even though it may not be the first doctor or the so called “best”, a few options and a few opinions are the smart way to go.

  3. Pingback: Not without a second opinion « LBBC's Blog

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