If you were having building work done on your house, you would not take the first quote that was given to you. Instead, you would ring around until you were sure of a fair price. Yet when it comes to getting a second opinion from a doctor, many people are often too shy to question a doctor's assessment, or to ask the necessary questions. Your body is the most important thing you will ever own, and before embarking on any treatment or procedure, asking for a second opinion can give you piece of mind and can help reassure you that you're making the right decision.
Even though doctors are trained medical professionals, you as the patient are sometimes best-placed to comment on your symptoms and how treatments are affecting you. Just because a doctor is in a position of authority does not mean that you can't challenge his opinion. Most doctors like to receive feedback from their patients, as it helps them to make a more informed assessment. If you think a treatment is affecting you in a particular way, then telling your doctor will help him amend your medication, and help to suggest a better course.
Asking for a second opinion will not offend your doctor, and it is a standard practice. Doctors regularly consult with one another, so consulting with a second doctor is a far more common than you may expect. Your doctor may also appreciate the fact that he is able to share the diagnostic process with another professional, particularly if your case is rare or difficult to define. Although asking for a second opinion may seem as if you are confronting your doctor, he or she is unlikely to view it this way and will probably be far more amenable to the suggestion than you may think.
Getting a second medical opinion often helps give you peace of mind, and ultimately that is worth overcoming any embarrassment you may feel. Asking for a second opinion can help give you more confidence in the diagnosis and/or your treatment plan- after all, doctors are not immune from making the occasional mistake. Having a positive attitude can help you deal with any on-going health problems you may have, and if getting a second medical opinion helps contribute to that positive outlook, then it's entirely worth doing.
Remember that asking for the opinion of another doctor does not imply that you're unhappy with your current doctor; it simply shows that you take personal responsibility for your health and want to explore all your options. By seeking the advice of multiple doctors, you can actually improve your relationship with your main GP, as you'll be better able to communicate at his or her level.