A second look

Patients don’t always ask for second opinions when they have doubts about a diagnosis that involves a hospital stay.

“In general, we live in a very educated climate — people do their own research,” says Dr. Mrunal Shah, assistant program director of Riverside Methodist Hospital’s family practice residency program. But despite this knowledge, says Shah, patients — especially older patients — are often afraid of offending their doctors by asking for a second opinion.

“There used to be a stereotype that doctors got angry when a patient asked for a second opinion,” says Shah.

Shah says any time patients have concerns or reservations about a physician’s choice of treatment, they should consider a second opinion, “especially when we’re talking major surgery or diagnosis plan.”

Since patients are usually under the care of a specialist at the time of diagnosis, Shah advises them to contact their primary care physician to obtain the name of another specialist for a second opinion. If the opinions vary, that may mean there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to treatment.

“If the second opinion is very different from the first, it becomes a case of informed consent,” says Shah. “In that case, it may come down to what the patient prefers to do.”

The primary care physician can obtain medical records from each specialist and facilitate the decision-making process by going over both recommendations and counseling the patient on the best option.

How to reach: Riverside Methodist Hospital (614) 566-5000.