Finally, after countless tests, you’ve got a diagnosis for what is wrong with you. Now your doctor can plan your journey back to good health.
While it’s good to have a trusting relationship with your doctor, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask questions about your diagnosis and proposed treatment plan. And when you ask questions, you want answers in language you can understand.
It’s perfectly reasonable to ask questions such as:
- How sure are you I have this condition? Is there a chance it’s something else?
- Where can I found out more information?
- Are there any alternatives to the treatment you’re proposing?
- What are the risks of this treatment?
- Are there any side effects from this medication?
- What will the treatment cost and when can I return to work?
This list is not exhaustive, but it gives you an idea of the details you might like to gather.
Depending on your confidence – and the scale of the treatment – you might want to seek a second opinion. And you should understand that you have the right to do that.
In fact, according to research by Ipsos, most people around the world (86%) say they would ask for a second opinion if they had doubts about their doctor’s diagnosis.
At Defence Health, members with hospital cover have convenient access to a second opinion through My Medical Expert. Provided by Best Doctors®, the service connects members (and their treating doctors) with the expert advice of medical specialists from around the world.
The process involves a local team pulling together all the existing medical data for a patient. Pathology is repeated and then the case is assigned to an international expert in your specific condition to review. The results are then shared in a report with the patient and treating doctor.
You might be surprised to learn the clinical review process has led to an average change in diagnosis in 10% of Australian cases – and a suggested change in treatment in 27%, as at June 2017.
So, it goes to show that fresh eyes can change a diagnosis. Even if you’re not responding to medication as you feel you should, or your post-surgery recovery is not as you expected, a second medical opinion could shed some light and help you get better, faster.
As the president of the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine, Dr Mark Graber says, “diagnosis can be a challenge when you consider there are 10,000 diseases but only 200 to 300 symptoms.”
Diagnosis is a complicated process and the surgery your doctor recommended may not be the best option. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – and if in doubt, get a second opinion.