This article was written by me and edited by John Hrabe.
CONSIDER GETTING A SECOND OPINION
If your gut tells you to get a second opinion, you need one.
A patient’s intuition can be one of the most powerful and helpful tools in medicine. According to a recent study, patient complaints about rude and disrespectful behavior are an effective tool for identifying the worst performing surgeons. Even if the second opinion confirms the initial diagnosis, it might open the door to alternative treatment options.
Patient advocate Trisha Torrey of Every Patient’s Advocate says good doctors welcome second opinions.
You can ask your doctor for a recommendation for a second opinion. You can also seek out a physician who has published on the topic, or lists your condition as a specialty.
Another option: get a second opinion remotely. The Cleveland Clinic is a leader in providing second opinions online. Their MyConsult program allows you to share your medical records with specialists there who will render a second opinion that you can share with your doctor.
Getting a second opinion doesn’t undermine your primary care provider. It’s about getting you on the right path to identifying the right treatment as soon as possible.
LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR DISEASE, ILLNESS OR CONDITION
The best resource for understanding your disease, illness or condition are other patients.
You can benefit from their experiences. You can learn which treatments worked and which failed. They’ll offer advice on how to overcome barriers to access and how to cope with your diagnosis.
Seek out groups that understand the unique challenges of your situation. Stupid Cancer and Critical Mass are the best resources for adolescents and young adults battling cancer. If you’re suffering with arthritis pain, CreakyJoints is your “go-to” resource for help. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s first recommendation upon begin diagnosed is to learn more about the condition. To help with that, they offer an education series for patients who have been newly-diagnosed with MS.
If you have a rare disease and you are having trouble finding a support group, the National Organization for Rare Diseases maintains a database of reports for more than 1,200 rare diseases.
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image credit: NIH.gov