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Significance of Second Opinion in Making Better Health Decisions

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By Apollo 24/7, Published on- 09 February 2022, Updated on - 18 October 2022

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Second opinion is a decision support procedure that involves getting the initial diagnosis or treatment plan for one condition reviewed by another physician or specialist. Based on their interpretation of a patient’s medical history, symptoms, and results of diagnostic tests, the second physician may confirm or modify the initial diagnosis or treatment suggested by the first physician.

Health experts say that a second medical opinion should not be viewed as doubting or questioning the expertise of the primary physician. In fact, a second opinion should be seen in the wider context of pooling the expertise of multiple physicians to provide the best medical treatment and care to the patient.

When Should One Consider a Second Opinion?

Although one doesn’t need a reason to opt for a second opinion, it is best to exercise this option when the diagnosis and treatment are less clear and confusing. Generally, one should get a second opinion when:

  • One has been diagnosed with a rare disease

The chances of misdiagnosis in cases involving rare diseases are high. This is because specific rare diseases affect very few people, and this often results in inadequate clinical research. Since there is very little information regarding rare diseases, it is important to look for physicians and specialists who have treated people with the same disease. They will help get the best possible treatment for the condition.

  • The treatment involves invasive surgery

It is always recommended to explore all the options before giving consent to any invasive surgical procedure. While a primary physician will most likely have the best interest in mind, one should not hesitate to consult another physician before opting for a surgical procedure that can have life-long consequences.

  • One has been diagnosed with cancer

A cancer diagnosis can be a life-changing event. Therefore, it makes sense to consult another expert to minimize the chances of misdiagnosis. Additional inputs from other experts will ensure that one is as informed as possible regarding the prognosis (predicting the future course of the disease) and potential treatment options. This will increase the likelihood of getting the best treatment. 

  • The symptoms persist after treatment

It is best to seek the advice of a second physician or specialist if the symptoms continue even after the initial treatment is over. Sometimes, patients assume that they will have to live with the pain and other discomforting symptoms. But this may not be the best thing to do. Until and unless one gets the right diagnosis, the chances of getting the right treatment are slim. So, if the symptoms continue to bother, it is ideal to reach out to another physician for a second opinion. 

Discussing Second Opinion with the Primary Physician

The primary physician will most likely support the patient’s decision of seeking a second opinion. Most physicians understand that getting a second opinion is in fact a good practice and that the patient has the right to know about their options. 

A second opinion can serve as a collaborative exercise in which there is complete transparency between all the stakeholders involved. It will lead to one of the following outcomes:

  • Confirmation of the diagnosis and treatment plan shared by the primary physician
  • Confirmation of the diagnosis but with modification of treatment options
  • Change of existing diagnosis along with the change of treatment plan
  • Completely different diagnosis and treatment strategy

In all cases, both the experts will engage in an in-depth discussion and try to arrive at a conclusion. 

Apollo’s Second Opinion Program

Apollo has tie-ups with international healthcare organizations to provide second opinion services to patients. Through this program, doctors at Apollo will be able to collaborate with leading medical experts to review complex cases and devise the most appropriate treatment plan. 

Benefits of Second Opinion Program

  • A world-class second opinion from top doctors from premier international institutes for the patients
  • Additional insights on the best treatment options.
  • A peer-reviewed diagnosis and management plan.

How to Avail Apollo’s Second Opinion Service 

Anyone looking to seek an international second opinion can consult an Apollo consultant, and express interest in the service. The patient’s medical records will then be shared with the international medical expert under appropriate consent and a conference call will be scheduled between the international medical expert and Apollo consultants, in presence of the patient. 

Based on the patient’s health history and case discussion with the Apollo consultant, the international doctor will share insights in the form of a written opinion with the Apollo consultant, who will further discuss and decide the best course of treatment for the patient.

For more information on the Second Opinion Program by Apollo, click below. 

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