Determining what to do when your child has been diagnosed with an illness is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. It’s natural to want to be sure that the diagnosis is accurate and that any proposed course of treatment is appropriate. A second opinion is a consultation with a second doctor to confirm a diagnosis or treatment recommendation.
Should I get a second opinion?
It’s not only your right to get a second opinion, but it is entirely reasonable to seek reassurance. It’s a good idea even if you have the utmost confidence in your child’s healthcare provider because approaches to illness may vary, and physician’s recommendations may be influenced by their levels of experience and the technology and facilities available to them.
By asking for a second opinion, you gain the opportunity to learn of other methods of treatment about which your child’s doctor may be unaware or may be unable to offer. It’s especially important to seek a second opinion in cases in which a recommended treatment is risky, costly, or controversial, or when previous treatments have not been successful. That’s because it’s not uncommon for second opinions to result in another diagnosis or a different recommended course of treatment.
Your child’s physician may even encourage you to request another consultation, and in some cases, insurance providers—which often cover second opinions—will require that you obtain one.
Second opinions vs a team approach
At Children’s, we feel strongly about having multiple specialists look at our most complex cases. That is why we often approach our patients as a team. Some departments have team meetings where the doctors will go around the room and discuss patients’ diagnoses, test results and recommended treatments. This allows other doctors to share their opinion and as a group and come up with the best care plan.
In many cases, doctors from many different specialties will meet to discuss a patient. This is often called multidisciplinary, meaning experts from several different disciplines come together.
Ask your doctor if other specialists will be consulted about your child. If so, it is often helpful to know who was consulted and who is included in the team evaluations.
What should I look for in a second opinion?
It’s best to seek a second opinion as early as possible. To get started, check with your insurance company concerning coverage. Then when you’ve selected a physician for the second opinion, request copies of all information, records, and tests that have been performed and provide them to that physician during the consultation, or, if possible, in advance. Following are among the questions to ask the provider:
- Is the previous diagnosis accurate?
- What are the treatment options?
- Which of the options do you recommend?
- What are the risks of that course of treatment?
- What is the likelihood of success?
- How many such procedures/treatments have you performed or provided and what has your success rate been?
Children’s Medical Center sees many patients who are looking for a second opinion. At Children’s, you will have access to a network of highly skilled physicians who can provide you with enough information to give you peace of mind and allow you to decide what approach to take, regardless of where you choose to have your child treated.
If you decide to have your child treated at Children’s, expert providers in more than 50 subspecialties are available to provide treatment and follow up care.