What is the value in a second opinion before surgery?

Patient-focused healthcare providers will always support the right of patients to get a second opinion, especially after a serious diagnosis or before a complex surgery. Seeking a second opinion doesn’t necessarily indicate that you’re worried the original doctor made a mistake, but rather that you feel you need to be better informed before making a treatment decision. When you watch this featured video, you’ll hear an interview with a neurosurgeon at Riverside Community Hospital. He explains why he strongly supports patients who self-advocate for their right to be informed.

Becoming an informed patient
Being an informed patient means that you:

  • Fully understand your diagnosis
  • Know which treatment options are available to you
  • Understand why your doctors recommend a certain treatment
  • Understand the potential risks of the treatments
  • Have asked all of your questions

Even if you go forward with the original doctor’s surgery recommendations, getting a second opinion can be invaluable because it allows you to become better informed about your health.

Understanding your diagnosis
Another doctor’s opinion is particularly valuable for patients when the diagnosis is confusing, serious or rare. A specialist may want to run an additional medical test or imaging scan, just to be sure that the original diagnosis is correct.

Even if the original diagnosis is confirmed by another doctor, getting a second opinion can help because it gives you the opportunity to discuss it further. Some questions you may want to ask include:

  • Why do I have this condition?
  • How serious is my health condition?
  • How can I manage my risk factors moving forward?
  • Is there a possibility of a recurrence after the surgery?
  • Is it possible for my condition to worsen without the surgery?
  • How exactly will my diagnosis affect my life?

Exploring all possible treatment options
Hypothetically, if you consult two board-certified orthopedists about surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome, one of them may suggest a carpal tunnel release surgery, while the other might refer you to a physical therapist first. A difference in medical opinion doesn’t necessarily mean that one of those orthopedists is wrong. It’s not unusual for similarly trained and credentialed doctors to take different approaches to patient care.

By seeking a second opinion, you’ll learn about these different approaches, and how each of them might benefit your health. When you do receive treatment, you can feel confident knowing that you made an informed decision.

World-class surgical services are available at Riverside Community Hospital , including organ transplant, spinal surgery and open heart surgery. Our surgery teams always put our patients first, and encourage them to seek a second opinion before choosing a course of treatment. Patients near Riverside can call (951) 788-3463 to speak with a registered nurse.

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