If you’ve been diagnosed with a heart or vascular condition, you may have questions about your best course of action. Getting a second opinion often can help confirm the diagnosis, educate you about alternate treatment options, and give you greater peace of mind in making decisions about your care.
For complex or life-threatening conditions, obtaining a second opinion is a routine practice that is important for both your physical and mental health. However, nearly half of all adults under the care of a doctor do not seek a second opinion.
When to Get a Second Opinion
Given the rapid and ongoing advancements in health care, a second opinion could mean the difference between two very different types of treatment, as your current physician may not be aware of the latest options available. If you do not obtain a second opinion, you may not be considered for certain new or even experimental procedures that are more effective, less invasive, or both.
Getting a second opinion regarding cardiovascular care should be strongly considered if:
- Your doctor says your condition cannot be successfully treated
- Your condition is not improving despite medical therapy
- You have been told there are no minimally invasive treatment options for your condition
- Surgery or a high-risk procedure is recommended as your only option
In addition, a second opinion is strongly advised if the recommended surgery or therapy is not performed often in your area or at your hospital of choice. Do not be afraid to ask your physician and your hospital how often they’ve performed the recommended procedure – and what the results have been.
It is worth noting that insurance companies often require a second opinion, especially if your doctor recommends surgery when a less-invasive procedure is available.
When Advice Conflicts
When the medical advice from the physician who provided the second opinion coincides with that of your primary physician, you can rest easy knowing that you’re making the right decision regarding your care. However, if the second opinion conflicts with the advice of your primary doctor, you will have a decision to make. Discuss the conflicting opinions with both physicians, recognizing that there is more than one course of action for treating most medical problems.
At UAB Medicine, we make every effort to educate our patients, so that they can make informed decisions about their care.
UAB Medicine’s heart and vascular physicians routinely provide second opinions to patients with all types of cardiovascular conditions. Ask your doctor if a referral to UAB Medicine is right for you, or call UAB HealthFinder at 1-800-UAB-8816 (1-800-822-8816) to make an appointment.