When people are diagnosed as having chronic conditions, or major conditions, then they often feel the need to go to a second doctor to see if they say the same things. Even when the second doctor confirms the diagnosis of the first doctor, the people report feeling comforted by the second opinion.

Major Changes in Diagnosis

When people get a second doctor to examine them for confirmation of an illness, as many as sixty two percent of those doctors give a diagnosis that is different, or suggest a different course of treatment for the condition. The second pair of eyes may see something that the first doctor missed, or the second doctor may know something about the disease the first doctor did not know, or the second doctor may simply treat the condition in a different way from the first doctor.

The second opinions may result in different treatment options, but it is not clear if the second opinions actually change the health outcome of the patient. The patient who has a terminal cancer may live longer if they use the treatment suggested by the first doctor, or they may live longer if they use the treatment suggested by the second doctor, but you can never be sure because in the end the patient had to choose to one treatment over the other.

Second Opinions Harm Your Health?

Sometimes people do not want to believe that they have a terminal condition and they seek second opinions to prove them right. In the course of trying to get another opinion the person may delay their medical treatment, which in the end might result in the condition worsening. Second opinions may be harmful in that respect.

More than ninety percent of the patients who get a second opinion before starting a course of treatment say they are pleased with the decision to get a second opinion, but fewer than forty percent of the people who get a different course of treatment prescribed by the doctor giving the second opinion actually follow the advice of the second doctor.

Some people are not going to accept a diagnosis and will go “doctor shop” until they finally find a doctor that will tell them what they want to hear, or will prescribe the course of treatment the person wants to take. This kind of treatment is not advisable for anyone.

Many insurance providers now require people who have diagnosis that will mean expensive, or extensive medical treatment receive a second opinion before they start treatment. Often the patient does not even see the doctor who does the second opinion. The lab result of the patient may be sent to a specialist for them to give their opinion on the tests, but they may never have seen the patient in person. It is hard for a doctor to make a diagnosis if they have not seen the patient, herd their symptoms, or been able to connect on a doctor to patient level.