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Speak Up: When Are Second Opinions Necessary?

To most folks the inner workings of the body are beyond our comprehension, which is why we put so much trust in doctors. When it comes to my health, I like to gather as much information as possible, which when dealing with big medical issues means getting a second opinion. Not every one thinks alike though. I have a friend who experiences terrible menstrual cramps, and after birth control pills did nothing to alleviate her pain, her gynecologist recommended a hysterectomy. It sounds like an urban myth, but she was told it was her only option. While my friend, who wants to have kids some day, hasn't had the surgery, she also hasn't sought a second opinion. With health care costs spiraling out of control, and so many rules about seeing a specialist out of network, getting a second opinion these days can be rough. How do you feel about getting the second opinion — is it a good idea, or a stalling technique? Have you seen a second doctor and received totally different advice, treatment, diagnoses? Speak up and share the details in the comment section below.


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ohbaby7 ohbaby7 8 years
I say DEFINITELY. After experiencing hip pain from running my doctor told me I had worn out joints and couldn't run anymore. I was only 17! When I went to physical therapy, the doctor knew exactly what was wrong and how to fix it. And now i can run whenever i like.
Allytta Allytta 8 years
second opinions are great. i had veruca and it took me 5 years to get a second opinion simply because i moved and got to see a different GP. the first one told me he has no idea what this is, but it is treatable with liquid nitrogen... he told me it's some kind of virus, but what kind he's not sure, so doesn't know what to do... he just told to deal with it and accept the fact it''l stay with me forever... then the other GP actually gave a name for the problem... but since then i did my own research and found out it might be human papiloma virus... which is weird, i got it when i was 14 and definetely did not have sex at the time. but i haven't seen a doctor about it yet... so yeah, i guess it will take 3 opinions to figure this one out. and it's very mild. can't imagine what could happen with the big stuff.
chibarosa chibarosa 8 years
I'm a firm believer in getting a second opinion. Doctors are people, and people make mistakes. My husband went to his doctor several times because he was having trouble breathing. Each time the symptoms were worse but the doctor refused to do a chest Xray - she kept telling him that he had high blood pressure and kept giving him sample meds. Of course his blood pressure was high - he couldn't breathe and his doctor wasn't doing anything about it! Finally I took him to my doctor, who did a simple chest Xray, and found a tumor the size of a grapefruit. He began chemo and radiation within a week and is now in remission.
kittyhill kittyhill 8 years
Second opinions are really important in extreme cases like your friend's. I had a second opinion, & then a third, about a clotting issue I was having; the first doctor was convinced I was going to drop dead any second. What a joke. It turns out that it's not a major issue at all, & I'd be spending a ton on prescriptions & tests every week if I had listened to him! I figure if your friend's insurance will cover a specialist, great! If not, maybe even another gynecologist will have better insight into her condition. If her insurance requires a referral, she shouldn't be shy about asking for one from her doc; with an operation that drastic, he should respect her desire to get a second opinion.
zcoral zcoral 8 years
I was told to have my appendix out a few years again after I had an ovarian cyst that ruptured, and I refused because I figured it was just some inflammation from the cyst. I went home from the hospital, and when I went back the next day to check in I got a different doc, and sure enough my appendix looked fine. I know it can be bad to act like you know better than a doc, but keep in mind most often their diagnosis is not an exact science, but an estimate of what your condition is. I don't think a second opinion is ever unreasonable.
kia kia 8 years
I am a fan of the second opinion route especially if your intuition is telling you something is off with your doctor's advice. My personal experience is with the diagnosis for my sugar cane allergy. In 2001 I started seeing a gastrointerologist for my symptoms and he sent me to an OB/GYN when he couldn't figure out what was going on. In 2005 I started seeing a different gastrointerologist and we went through an MRI, ultrasound and an invasive series of tests before he said he was stumped and suggested we schedule to have my gall bladder removed to see if it would help alleviate my symptoms. The thought of randomly removing a part of me to see if it would help did not sit well with me. Luckily it was a chiropractor who was doing a nutrition series at a Wild Oats that I happened to be at for a salad who talked to me after his seminar. We developed a friendship and months later he offered for free to be listed as the contact for an IGG antibody test to see if I was having food reactions, all I had to pay for was the test and that was directly to the lab. In retrospect, removing my gall bladder would not have helped.
fleurfairy fleurfairy 8 years
I highly doubt she needs a hysterectomy. I would definitely get a 2nd, and maybe even 3rd, opinion. I have extremely painful menstrual cramps also, but my gyno gave me a prescription for pain meds that are strong enough to deal with the pain, but non-addicting. I would rather have the cramps then send myself into early menopause with a hysterectomy. Damn!
Spectra Spectra 8 years
I would get a second opinion if my doctor diagnosed me with something very serious because I would want to be absolutely sure that I had all the facts and was being offered all the right treatment options. Luckily, I haven't needed one yet, but my mom had to get a second opinion when she first got Meniere's disease. Her first doctor told her it was simply vertigo and there was nothing she could do about it. The second doctor she saw diagnosed her with Meniere's and put her on a diuretic and a low-sodium diet to alleviate the pressure in her ears, which helped a lot. Just be wary of any doctor that tells you that you don't need a second opinion after they give you their diagnosis. Any GOOD doctor is going to be totally fine with you getting a second opinion to get a more well-rounded view of what's going on with you.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 8 years
In some cases yes. Even third opinions are necessary. For me had I not gotten a second and third opinion I would be dead right now. I had a herniation of my large intestine and was in extreme pain. The first doctor said after a quick physical exam "there's no hernia". But still she gave me a heavy dose of narcotic painkiller and an unlimited prescription for pain killers. Next doctor - did an endoscopy and thought he saw some suspious things going on in my abdomen and advised my surgeon that they should immediately do exploratory surgery to make sure nothing more serious was happening. Third doctor looked at results from the endoscopy and spoke with the doctor making the suggestion for exploratory and after much badgering by the second doctor the third doctor (the surgeon) agreed to do exploratory surgery. His doing the exploratory surgery saved my life. and all three doctors now admit that. During the surgery the doctor tapped my large intestine with an electrode and it coiled and tangled up into a tight knot, once he saw this he looked at the intestine below the knot and saw that portions were dying off or dead due to lack of blood flow. Luckily none of the dead or dying intestine had started to rot but it was only a rather short matter of time before it all would have quickly cease function and I would have esstenial keeled over dead because of chronic intestinal ischemia. Now with my sister's "breast cancer" we are trying to get a second and third opinion on her surgery. The first surgeon doesn't want to remove the actual cancerous tumor because he says her chances of survival are the same either way. That is just not acceptable to force my sister to live with the knowledge that she has a cancerous tumor in her chest that my reactivate at any time, and that it could have been removed when they removed her breast. However, the insurance company is now attempting to prevent her from getting a second opinion. They say they are satisfied with the first doctors prognosis and that she doesn't need a 2nd opinion. The n again they also said she didn't need a 2nd mammogram or MRI or PET Scan, or chemo.
brookberrys brookberrys 8 years
It's like you've been stalking me lately, FitSugar... I went to a chiropractor for the first time a few days ago, and on that same day you ask us if we've been to a chiropractor before. He diagnosed me with scoliosis, and just today I made an appointment with another doctor for a second opinion about treatment options. I have been stressing a little since being told I had scoliosis but the more I read online, the more I hear cases of chiropractors scaring patients into getting treatments when it usually doesn't do much. So this time I'm going to see a physical therapist to see what they have to say about it. I'm hoping it will give me a better idea about the situation.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
I don't think I've ever gotten a second opinion, but if someone told me that I should cut out my uterus to alleviate cramping, you'd better believe I'd be running to the next doctor who would have me.
bicyclebeth bicyclebeth 8 years
I have often found a second opinion beneficial, even on more minor things as different doctors/podiatrists/physios etc have different ways of looking at things. The initial extra cost is generally outweighed by faster recovery and increased comfort.
greatscott200 greatscott200 8 years
I would get a second opinion about something this big. I did get burned once going and getting a second opinion and have another set of tests that my insurance would not cover because I had capped out of my allowance for that particular issue. Nice.
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
If I was in your friends shoes I would get a 2nd opinion. I believe if their "treatment" plan is major and could seriously affect your future it's best to get a 2nd opinion.
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