It is very important to help our patients who entrusted us with their Health to educate them about their disease condition, how to treat it and prevent its recurrence or progression.
A second opinion will help to confirm or deny the previously-made diagnosis. A second opinion will also help to explain to patients the various therapeutic options for the best clinical outcome. It is very easy for patients to get confused by information overload if they try to navigate through a complicated process to come up with decisions that best serve their health interests.
A second opinion is mostly needed in case of elderly patients living in rural areas who typically do not have a high level of sophistication to understand the entire process, but need very simple explanation in easy language to understand by avoiding all complex medical terminology that patients do not know.
Any patient should seek a second opinion if he or she was diagnosed with a rare or unusual disease or complicated diseases that could have multi-system involvement. For example, if a patient has significant coronary artery disease, renal insufficiency, the peripheral vascular disease would be at a higher risk for developing renal failure requiring life-long hemodialysis resulting from irreversible kidney damage.
Similarly, doing a coronary artery bypass surgery on a patient with poor pulmonary functions, renal insufficiency, cancer with expected reduced survival may render this patient to be a ventilator- dependent and unable to breathe on their own with protracted pulmonary rehab.
Those patients are unlikely candidates to make a meaningful recovery as they end up in long term care facility. They will most likely develop many complications such as repeated infections such as pneumonia and urinary tract infections, blood clots, skin ulcers, malnutrition, immobility and ending in multi-system organ failure!
So, the time to seek a second opinion is when the diagnosis is not certain or treatment being risky or controversial. Also, when the trust in the care given by the treating doctor or the facility is lost. Either the patient or their doctors should start searching online or via social media for honest well trained, fully credentialed physicians in the same specialty to seek a second opinion. Thus, physicians should not be offended when patients request a second opinion and patients should not feel as if they are cheating on their doctors when they go for the second opinion.
According to a study done at Mayo Clinic found 88% of patients seek second opinion ended up with either a change or modification of their treatment plan!
The value of a second opinion is recognized by healthcare insurance companies that pay for it and insist on a second opinion before starting any treatment.
To confirm a diagnosis, choice of therapy, alleviate patient and families concerns, ensure the appropriate choice of treatment is selected and concurred by the treating team. If a second opinion is not properly done, then all subsequent steps in the care plan will be negatively impacted and then you have to start all over again with additional mostly preventable added cost and stress to patients and their families!
The need for a second opinion for medical tourism patients is even more critical because of added challenges includes patient going to travel to far places from home to seek medical care for affordability and accessibility with different language and environment.
Hence, all due diligence should be done before traveling( measure twice then cut once!). There are additional factors beyond the good advertised prices which include for example the reputation of the institution, level of training and clinical experience of the treating physician and successful procedures as well as complication rates
Moreover, we have to advocate for patients to explore legal pathways in case of an adverse event or a complication taking place to give the patient an additional layer of security, comfort, and peace of mind.
It all starts with meticulous planning to maximize the success of Medical Tourism experience, boost customer satisfaction and confidence in the quality of services provided by honest, well-trained specialists to contact and contract for medical tourism services.
Author: Dr. Adel Eldin, MD, FACC, FACP, MBA, GGA on LinkedIn.
- Board Certified Cardiologist
- Former President, Society of Physician Entrepreneur, Tampa Bay Chapter
- Global Goodwill Ambassador (GGA)