Seeking second opinion for a medical problem means evaluating the patient for the same medical problem to give another opinion on the diagnosis or the proposed plan of care.
At times it is required in difficult situations wherein the patient is apprehensive of a surgery or a complex medical problem or when the treatment has been going on since long without showing effective results. Even at times a family physician, also known as a family doctor in India, seeks second opinion of a specialist in a complicated condition. Although there is no data to understand how many people are seeking second opinion as at times patient don’t reveal to their family physician about the second opinion he / she has sought which could be cause of various reasons including but not limited fear of losing trust of the family physician. At the same time they seek second opinion when they patients are not satisfied with the services being availed. Moreover some malpractices by doctors are also leading to increased use of second opinion particularly where costs are prohibitive and involve surgery. Even if treatment doesn’t involve surgery, Second opinion is also valuable in case of chronic diseases.
Need for second opinion will also grow when various insurance companies try to seek second opinion of doctors to understand whether the treatment done was actually required or not. There have been concerns raised in the past that doctors have resorted to expensive treatments when the same ailment could have been treated at a much lower cost. This assumes further significance when dealing with the lives of patients particularly in cases of coronary diseases where expensive stents are used.
Unfortunately in a country like India where there is lack of transparency in medicine and medicines and pathological tests (by few physicians) are prescribed keeping in mind self interests (Gifts and commission from Pharma companies and Pathlabs),Second opinion will become more prevalent with every passing day. Companies like RxOcean have taken the first step in that direction. All sorts of specialists (critical care specialists, pediatricians, orthopedicians, family physicians, diabetes specialists) are available under one umbrella called as RxOcean and they are just a click away from the patients.