Specialists for a second opinion - Why a medical second opinion can be so important

"Second Opinion": The world of medicine has changed - patients and their relatives now benefit from a level of transparency in the healthcare system that we have never known before. One example: Today, the Leading Medicine Guide makes it possible to find exactly the right specialist focusing on a particular disease or complaint with just a few clicks. And even if it is "only" for a second medical opinion. Because it provides even more clarity!

Second opinion? This refers to the independent assessment of a medical diagnosis by a second doctor. When a diagnosis is not conclusive, when a proposed therapy is to be questioned - or when patients simply feel the need for maximum safety: In this case, a second medical opinion is warranted, which ideally removes all doubts.

Good specialists recommend obtaining a second opinion if there is even the slightest doubt. And if in turn patients wish to get a better feeling regarding the diagnosis or treatment methods, empathetic top physicians will support this request. Specialists often work together with colleagues from other departments to determine the best therapy.

Second opinion: When should you get one?

Of course: A definite diagnosis by a specialist can usually be trusted. The second assessment, which can relate to a disease as well as to a treatment method, is particularly useful in the case of serious therapeutic measures. When it comes to avoiding unnecessary surgery. Or to avoid a misdiagnosis, which could lead to taking the wrong medication, inappropriate radiation or other measures that could have serious consequences.

For example, it can be very important to choose from different treatment options in the case of cancer or prior to serious spinal surgery. But also with any other surgical procedure that requires a longer hospital stay or treatment with drugs that could have severe side effects, patients today often ask themselves: Doesn't it make sense to have the treatment evaluated? Is it not better to have two doctors assessing the situation? However, when time is of the essence, for example in the case of advanced cancer, the question arises as to whether it is still feasible to obtain a second opinion. Then the patients have to weigh up the decision against an early start of therapy.

Is the second medical opinion requested?

These are the duties of the attending physician:

Germany: The Federal Ministry of Health and Social Security and the Federal Ministry of Justice have jointly published a "Charter of Patients' Rights in Germany". This states that patients have a fundamental right to obtain a second medical opinion. This means that doctors must cooperate if a patient wishes to be assessed by a second, independent doctor.

But it's not quite that simple. Although the doctor in charge is obliged to do some things: He must allow his patients to view the medical records and provide them with copies or printouts - in return for reimbursement. However, the doctor does not have to hand over the original documents. There is also no right to demand subjective records from the doctor. Any documents produced in the course of psychiatric treatment are also excluded from the right of inspection.

Here too, every doctor who is primarily interested in the well-being of his patients will do everything possible to make the second opinion possible without obstacles. After all, he also benefits from this - because it almost guarantees that the wrong therapy will be ruled out. In addition, the better the documentation provided by the doctor, the less stress for the patient. This is because the second doctor has meaningful treatment documents available for his "second opinion", which often saves the patient from having to undergo diagnostic measures again.

Search for a doctor for a second medical opinion

Obtaining a second medical opinion is of course only useful if the second doctor has a great deal of experience in the relevant specialist area. Patients can weigh up the options: Do they trust in the advice given by the attending physician? Or isn't it better to look up the Leading Medicine Guide right away - where numerous outstanding specialists from Germany, Austria and Switzerland are listed by specialty and even by treatment focus? This is the transparency that patients want: Here you can find exactly the right specialist for a disease or treatment!

Costs for a second medical opinion

Who pays the costs? This question cannot be answered with a single answer. It is therefore recommended that you check with your health insurance company before consulting a second doctor. That way, you can avoid unpleasant surprises, which might be based on small mistakes. So: Just ask your private or statutory health insurance company!

One thing patients should never do: If you don't tell the second doctor that a diagnosis has already been made, you can get into trouble with the insurance company. Because if this doctor bills the treatment as an initial examination, the patient can be held responsible. By the way: The patient is free to choose which doctor to be treated by after obtaining two opinions.

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