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Should you get a second opinion?

After getting diagnosed with an illness or injury, it’s natural to feel shocked or overwhelmed at first. In these moments, it can be tough to think with a level head. That means many people simply accept their diagnosis without much extra thought. But this isn’t always the best idea—doctors are human. It’s always possible they may have missed something or didn’t see the full picture of your health.

If there’s any ambiguity about your initial diagnosis, seeing another doctor could offer more insight. Getting a second opinion can also be worthwhile whenever risky and potentially expensive surgeries, medicines, or tests are prescribed.

How to get a second opinion on your diagnosis

To start, it’s a good idea to check with your insurance provider first to ensure that second opinions are covered. Then, find a doctor, surgeon, or specialist who’s unaffiliated with your current health care provider. You could ask your family doctor or the doctor you’re already seeing for a referral, or find a doctor through your insurance provider.

Make an appointment with the second doctor, and make sure the office knows to get your records from your first doctor or have your medical records sent to their office.

Your decision may be easier if the doctors agree on treatment options. If their opinions differ, talk to your family doctor or see another type of specialist to understand other treatments.

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This information is general in nature and provided for educational purposes only.