2nd Opinion Musings

2nd Opinion Musings

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By Dr Irwin Lim, Rheumatologist

I saw 2 new patients presenting for a 2nd opinion today.

They've seen rheumatologists I know. And while this situation was slightly uncomfortable when I first started out in practice more than a decade ago, that's no longer the case.

The 2nd opinion is a powerful tool.

Sometimes, patient and doctor just don't gel. It makes sense for the patient to then find someone else that they can work with in a more productive fashion. The doctor's personality and practice style isn't likely to change dramatically.

Sometimes, a fresh set of eyes are needed. A review of what has been done, sans the comfort and baggage of a long therapeutic relationship, may lead to an approach not previously considered.

All rheumatologists have strong practice points and weaker ones. We can't be all knowing and we have our specific interests. I learned early on to admit this to myself and to the patient. If I don't know and can't help, there is likely to be someone else who can.

Occasionally, the patient just needs to hear a number of opinions to help them come to terms with the problem, and to help reinforce the advice they were given by rheumatologist no.1.

I get an increasing number of patients coming for these 2nd (or 3rd or more) opinions. I'm also sure that a number of my patients have moved on and are probably seeing another rheumatologist. The latter isn't a pleasing thought of course but it is understandable.

What are your experiences with the 2nd opinion?

Dr Irwin Lim is a rheumatologist and a director of BJC Health. You should follow him on twitter here.
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