THE NUTS AND BOLTS OF HEALTH CARE FOR YOUR CHILD: SECOND OPINIONS

Sometimes parents will not be entirely happy with the diagnosis, treatment or advice offered by a doctor. This is perfectly natural, and does not necessarily mean that the doctor is wrong. It is important to be open and frank and discuss your uncertainties with him. If you still do not feel completely comfortable or satisfied, you should consider obtaining a second opinion, from another general practitioner, a paediatrician or other medical specialist, or at the children’s hospital. You may particularly want to do this if you are worried about the condition of your child, or if the doctor has recommended hospitalisation, special tests or a costly or complicated course of treatment.

Obtaining a second opinion is standard medical practice, and while some doctors may be defensive when you raise the issue, they should agree, and even recommend someone whom you might see. In fact, it may be the doctor who raises the possibility, if he senses that you are not entirely happy. It is helpful if he writes a letter to the other doctor, or calls and arranges the appointment. Often the second doctor will wish to know details of earlier consultations, or the results of tests or X-rays. It is then customary for the second doctor to write back to your referring doctor with his opinion.

If the second opinion confirms the advice given by your usual doctor, then this should renew your confidence in your doctor. If the second opinion is different, then you will need to decide how to proceed.

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