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Understanding When You Should Ask for a Medical Second Opinion

Amanda Winstead
Medical concerns can be among the most stressful experiences. We all rely on medical professionals to help us through this process and provide expert guidance. However, there can occasionally be times that you find you’re not receiving the level of care you deserve.

Medical concerns can be among the most stressful experiences. We all rely on medical professionals to help us through this process and provide expert guidance. However, there can occasionally be times that you find you’re not receiving the level of care you deserve. 

This in itself can add further mental pressure to the situation. However, this doesn’t mean to say you’re powerless to act. Gaining a second opinion is a pragmatic and effective approach to addressing your concerns. This may be either from the perspective of providing you with confirmation of a diagnosis or giving you a better quality of care. 

But when should you ask for a second medical opinion? We’re going to take a look at a couple of key scenarios alongside some positive approaches to the process.

Dismissive Doctors

Perhaps one of the most prevalent concerns in women's health today is the issue of not being taken seriously by medical professionals. In many cases, this can feel like a failure to grasp the level of discomfort or concern you are feeling regarding symptoms. In some of the worst-case scenarios, this amounts to gaslighting. Medical professionals may make you feel that your experiences are purely psychological, despite the further distress or more serious illnesses that can occur down the line.

This issue may be the result of a range of systemic issues. It’s not just a case of lack of knowledge about conditions that only affect women. There still isn’t sufficient research being performed regarding women’s experiences of more common health issues. This either leads to doctors basing their diagnostic or treatment recommendations on the experiences of the men that were studied or missing key symptoms altogether. The issues here may also come down to outdated information about women’s health. There is, of course, the possibility that doctors’ behavior may be based on conscious or unconscious sexism. 

Whatever the root causes are, the outcome is that you aren’t getting the care you need. This is reason enough for you to seek second or even multiple opinions on your diagnosis or treatment.

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Multiple Treatment Options

Another key issue surrounding medical care is the prevalence of treatment options available. This can be an excellent thing when it comes to having a high level of quality care and solutions. However, it can also be confusing to know which is the right option for you.

For instance, at the moment there is a range of vision correction procedures available. LASIK is often selected because it is simply one of the most prominent solutions. Yet, it is not suitable for all circumstances. Some conditions may benefit more from photo-refractive keratectomy (PPK) or refractive lens exchange (RLE). Gaining a second opinion may provide you with a fuller context of what treatments fit your condition and your needs.  

It is also common for medical professionals to have relationships with pharmaceutical companies. They may also have business interests in other forms of treatment. While it should be a given that their recommendations are based purely on your well-being, this isn’t always entirely the case. If you feel the options recommended to you are skewed in favor of certain brands or approaches, this is certainly a good reason to ask for a medical second opinion.

Asserting Your Rights

One of the most difficult aspects of navigating a second opinion is actually communicating your need for one. Many people hesitate to do this because they feel there may be consequences. They may think they’ll appear to be needlessly combative or that they’re suggesting the doctor is in some way incompetent. In some cases, patients may feel as though they’re putting a burden on an already stretched medical service.

It is vital to understand that you as a patent have certain rights in this regard. Respecting a patient’s rights as a healthcare professional is essential to your duties. The American Medical Association (AMA) Code of Medical Ethics specifically outlines that patients are entitled to gain a second opinion on any recommendations by doctors, nurses, and other professionals. If you are experiencing some friction from a professional in gaining more information, rest assured that the AMA’s guidelines support your needs.

Nevertheless, you should be aware that any doctor that responds poorly to your request for wider data isn’t prioritizing your well-being. All medical professionals should be encouraging their patients to be more informed advocates for their health. Patients like these are often more committed to their long-term health and can be better collaborators in care. Approach the matter frankly and talk openly to your doctor about your concerns.

Finding the Right Professional

So, once you’ve asserted your need for a second opinion, how do you go about gaining one effectively? Your current doctor or consultant may be able to provide you with some options here. If you have an open and communicative relationship with your doctor, speak up about what issues are leading you to want some more information and guidance. They may be able to direct you to others that have more experience in the field.

In some cases, you may need to approach the process alone. This will involve doing some research based on the concerns you have regarding the level of care you are currently receiving. Look for professionals with a good reputation for providing sensitive and considerate treatment, particularly if you feel you’ve been gaslit or dismissed by other professionals. Often, reviews from other women can be a helpful gauge.

When you take your first appointment with a new professional, be open about what has led you to seek a second opinion. This gives them some insights into the care you’ve received previously and what additional information they can provide you that your other doctor may have overlooked.


You have a right to receive high-quality healthcare. Doctors being dismissive of your symptoms or a lack of clarity over treatment options are key reasons to seek a second opinion. Being communicative about your needs and performing some research are empowering ways to advocate for your health. Being assertive about your rights can put you on the path to a better standard of well-being.

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Amanda Winstead is a writer from the Portland area with a background in communications and a passion for telling stories. Along with writing she enjoys traveling, reading, working out, and going to concerts. If you want to follow her writing journey, or even just say hi you can find her on Twitter.  

NOTE: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Nannocare. Nannocare is not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with the author of this article, or any of its subsidiaries or its affiliates. 

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