Nurse Karin Berntsen shares what a woman should know about obtaining a second opinion about her diagnosis or course of treatment.
The healthcare consumer needs to be more knowledgeable and sometimes a little knowledge is dangerous, so you can’t become an expert, but you can seek out enough information to ask the right questions, but probably the most important thing is get your opinion from your physician if you are going to be hospitalized for something. Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion.
If you are uncertain about any kind of recommended treatment get that second opinion. Most insurance companies will pay for a second opinion if you feel that you are in doubt about treatment options. So be sure to understand that, that your doctor should not be offended if you ask for a second opinion. The AMA actually encourages physicians to encourage their patients to ask for a second opinion, and if it’s a very serious illness such as a diagnosis of cancer or a major recommendation for some kind of surgery you can even get a third opinion if you need to, but weigh that out very carefully and don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion.
You may be concerned that your physician gets upset if you ask for a second opinion and that’s important because if your physician is upset, that might even be an early warning sign to you that something is wrong. Yes, I mentioned the American Medical Association encourages doctors to have their patients get second opinion so their own organization encourages that. You can tell your doctor, this isn’t meant to, you know, insult you or I don’t trust your information, but for my own sake I have to get another opinion.
Good physicians understand that and usually a physician will not be insulted by that and may even help you facilitate a second opinion. If somebody gets very angry and upset about that, that should be a little bit of a warning to you, you know, why doesn’t he or she want me to get a second opinion? So please understand that and watch your doctor’s reaction, but it is your right to get a second opinion.
About Karin Berntsen, R.N.:
Karin Berntsen, R.N., is the Director of Quality and Risk Management at Alvarado Hospital in San Diego, California. She is also the Patient Safety Officer for the hospital. Nurse Berntsen has worked at Alvarado for more than four years, authored two books on patient safety, and believes passionately that all patients should have the best, safest care possible when they are in the hospital.