Getting A Second Opinion

Seeking a second medical opinion (SMO) is standard medical practice, and patients should not hesitate to ask for one. In fact, some healthcare providers urge patients to obtain an SMO, especially when surgery is recommended. Many healthcare providers themselves seek second opinions from colleagues as they review a patient’s case.

When To Seek An SMO

Becoming well educated about infertility issues will help a patient to decide whether an SMO is needed.

When a patient suspects a diagnostic error, has been unsuccessful after repeated treatments, or otherwise lacks confidence in a healthcare provider’s advice, an SMO should be sought. However, even when a patient trusts a healthcare provider, an SMO can be helpful.

Since there are many causes of infertility, there are numerous areas of specialization. When the primary healthcare provider does not specialize in the specific area affecting a patient, obtaining the opinion of a sub-specialist should be considered.

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Preparing For An SMO

The healthcare provider providing an SMO should have as much, or greater, expertise as the patient’s primary healthcare provider. In choosing a healthcare provider to provide an SMO, a patient may ask the primary healthcare provider for a recommendation, or seek referrals from other sources.

To maximize the benefits of an SMO, a patient should review and fully understand the conclusions and recommendations of the primary healthcare provider before meeting with the second healthcare provider. When calling to schedule the SMO, patients should ask what pre-visit documents are required. The healthcare provider providing the SMO will likely want to review lab results, X-rays and other medical records before seeing the patient. Some healthcare providers also may request a letter from the referring healthcare provider.

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What To Do With An SMO

Usually, the SMO will agree with the primary healthcare provider’s opinion. When that is not the case, the healthcare provider providing the SMO may write to the primary healthcare provider explaining the difference in opinion. The patient must then decide whether to remain with the primary healthcare provider, change to the healthcare provider providing the SMO, or seek yet another medical opinion.

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