The science of medicine is still open to interpretation. Two well-trained doctors may reach different conclusions about diagnoses or treatment plans, and both recommendations can be valid. That’s why getting a second opinion, especially about something as complex as heart surgery and procedures, is common and even recommended by doctors.
A second opinion gives you more information and options, whether they’re life-changing (like a different diagnosis) or practical (like a more convenient treatment schedule). Or it could echo the first opinion, giving you peace of mind in making a decision.
If you’re seeking a second opinion at Ochsner, here are 10 questions you should ask your doctor:
1. Why is this treatment the best option for me?
Your doctor should explain the reasoning behind the recommendation, especially it differs from the first opinion, and how the treatment will improve your health.
2. What is your experience with this treatment?
Ask how often your doctor uses this treatment and about his or her track record with successes and complications.
3. Are there any alternative options?
Find out whether you could benefit from additional testing and whether more conservative treatments, like medications and lifestyle changes, could similarly improve your health.
4. What will happen if I wait or don’t have the treatment?
You may not have to start treatment right away. Ask about the health consequences of delaying the decision — or deciding against it.
5. What are the risks? How will you help me manage side effects?
Many procedures are not without risk. Talk through possible complications so that you can better weigh the pros and cons.
6. How long can I expect the benefits of this treatment to last?
Discuss your long-term prognosis: Will you need additional treatment in the coming years, or will the results last a lifetime?
7. Where will my treatment and appointments take place?
Find out if the procedure will be performed in a hospital or in an outpatient setting, and consider the logistics of traveling to your appointments.
8. Who will be involved in my care?
Your treatment is likely a team effort. Ask how other medical professionals, like nurses, anesthesiologists and rehabilitation specialists, will support you.
9. What will my recovery entail?
Ask about the days, weeks and months following the treatment, like the length of time you’ll be hospitalized and whether you’ll participate in cardiac rehabilitation.
10. What will my life be like once I recover from the treatment?
Your doctor believes treatment will improve your life, but to what extent? Be sure to understand the goals of the treatment and health limitations you might have afterward.
Patients from across the world come to Ochsner for second opinions about serious treatments. If you’re looking for a second opinion about your heart care, contact us today at 866-624-7637.