Healthy You - Every Day

Don't Think Twice About Getting a Second Opinion

If you’re not comfortable with your provider’s diagnosis and treatment recommendations for your illness, a second opinion may be a wise decision.

second opinion

Something simply doesn’t feel right. Your doctor has given you a diagnosis of your illness and recommended treatment options, but you don’t feel comfortable with it all. What do you do?

Thousands of patients get second opinions every year. We hear of them all the time in sports, where an athlete knows that surgery likely ends his or her season. So, they will seek out alternatives. But second opinions are common among all types of patients.

Why get a second opinion?

Some common reasons for a second opinion include:

  • You have gone through a treatment regimen, yet your symptoms remain.
  • You have been diagnosed with cancer or another life-threatening condition.
  • You have been diagnosed with a rare condition that perhaps your physician hasn’t encountered often.
  • Your recommended treatment involves significant risk or could be life-altering.
  • You simply don’t feel comfortable with what you’re hearing.

Get a Second Opinion

Schedule a second opinion with an LVHN expert.

Request an appointment

“I’ve been doing this kind of work for 32 years,” says hematologist oncologist Mariette Austin, MD, PhD, with LVPG Hematology Oncology–Hecktown Oaks. “Over my career I’ve been something of a jack of all trades regarding cancer. I will tell patients with conditions with which I have little experience that it’s time for outside input, and I’ll recommend a colleague who lives, eats and breathes the cancer that person has. We’ll work in partnership for that patient’s benefit.”

For primary care physicians such as Natasha Carlson, MD, MPH, with LVPG Family Medicine–Hecktown Oaks, second opinions usually are a regular occurrence. Generally, primary care physicians will refer patients with more serious conditions to specialists. But even lesser conditions might call for another opinion.

“If a diagnosis or treatment gets complicated as a case moves along, of course we’d be seeking out another opinion,” Carlson says. “Medicine overall has become much more complex. There are so many providers with different experiences, different training. We have a duty to seek out the best possible outcome for a patient, and certainly that could involve another voice.”

In Austin’s experience, she has seen far more patients coming to her for a second opinion than those seeking a medical opinion other than hers. But if a patient would seem uncertain with what she recommends, she wouldn’t hesitate to suggest they seek recommendations from another provider.

How do I get a second opinion?

At Lehigh Valley Health Network, seeking a second opinion is as easy as submitting an online form or calling one of our specialty practices. Once you have an appointment scheduled, you will need to provide information about your current diagnosis and treatment. If you have a medical record with LVHN, your provider for a second opinion will be able to review test results and diagnostic information through our electronic medical record system. If you are coming from another health system, you can request medical records and other information be provided for the second opinion.

Should a patient decide to transfer care into or out of another practice, it’s usually a smooth procedure involving the transfer of medical records and perhaps a conversation between physicians.

“If the patient isn’t satisfied, you would do whatever you can to help them,” Carlson says. “In my case, a big part of primary care is understanding your patients very well. Their needs are what matters.”

Explore More Articles