Millions of Americans wouldn’t hesitate to get a second opinion if their vehicle needed repair, yet a stunning percentage fail to seek a second opinion for important health decisions, a new survey reveals.
In the poll, conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Invisalign, 70 percent of U.S. adults said they would seek a second opinion for a major home repair, more than half would for car repair services, and 30 percent would for personal electronics repair. By contrast, just 19 percent said they have sought a second opinion for a medical condition, 17 percent for a medical procedure and 6 percent for dental work.
“A second opinion can be valuable to patients who face complex, risky or costly treatments,” says Michael Goddard, DPM, a foot and ankle surgeon. “A second opinion may reveal simpler, less expensive or more effective treatment options. What’s more, having two medical professionals concur on a course of treatment can provide patients with enhanced peace of mind that they are making the right decision for their health.”
Trust in their current doctor or dentist was the top reason why U.S. adults said they would not seek a second opinion. “Health professionals do not view it as a breach of trust when a patient seeks a second opinion,” Goddard says. “We want patients to be as informed and confident as possible when making treatment decisions.”
The value of getting a second opinion extends to dental work as well as other types of health procedures. Less than a quarter of Americans said they would get a second opinion for teeth straightening and less than 10 percent for oral procedures such as root canal. Yet many of these oral procedures meet the criteria for meriting a second opinion; they are invasive, costly and have long-term impact if not handled properly.
“At least 15 percent of my Invisalign patients are second opinion cases who were told they were not candidates for this minimally invasive teeth straightening option. The reality is that almost every adult and teen patient can be an Invisalign candidate for at least a portion of their orthodontic treatment,” says New York-based Dr. Joseph Hung of Manhattan Orthodontics. “Many patients inquire about this type of straightening because the aligners are clear, removable, and more convenient than metal braces. If they have been told they are not candidates, a second opinion from a qualified and experienced orthodontist may show them that it can be possible to pursue their first choice in treatment options.”
How do you know when a procedure – medical or oral – merits seeking a second opinion? Dr. Goddard suggests seeking a second opinion if:
* You face a significant health crisis and your treatment choice may well decide your long-term prognosis.
* You’ve been told your condition is “untreatable.”
* You are considering a procedure (such as teeth straightening) that is a significant financial investment and that may also have a related health impact.
* You are unsure about the course of treatment your current physician has suggested.
* Your doctor does not have a lot of experience in treating your particular health issue or with a particular treatment option.
When it’s time to seek a second opinion, keep these pointers in mind:
* Two opinions are often enough but if they drastically conflict, don’t hesitate to seek a third. If both opinions concur, you can face treatment feeling more confident about your decision.
* Get second opinions from physicians with a different background than the doctor who provided the initial opinion.
* Consider looking at natural and holistic options, too.
* Consider bringing someone along to your second opinion appointment alone. Bring a friend for support and to compare notes after the appointment. If you must go alone, bring a voice recorder (available on most cellular phones) and notebook and review the information at your leisure before making a decision.
“While patients facing serious health issues may be more likely to seek a second opinion, having more information and a better understanding of all treatment options can be valuable for many patients making non-critical medical or dental and orthodontic related decisions,” Hung says. “Of the patients who came to me for a second opinion on their teeth straightening options, most say they are happy they did it.”
To learn more about Invisalign, visit www.invisalign.com.