Thursday, November 22, 2007

Second Opinions - Where to Get One

How do patients find doctors to do a second opinion?
Patients should ask their primary care doctor, either an internist or family physician, who to see for a second opinion. Often their doctor refers patients to specialists and will be familiar with different doctor groups in the community.

Another option to find a doctor is by using the physician directory of a professional medical society. For example to find an orthopaedic surgeon, going to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website, one can find doctors by zip code, city, or state.

The third option is to find the nearest medical school or university hospital and ask to see a doctor who is staffed there. Through these medical centers' websites you often can get a name and an idea of the individual doctor's background and experience. Because are often teaching hospitals, be sure to clarify if you only want to see that doctor or if it would be ok to be seen by one of the doctors in training. The doctors in training, interns, residents, fellows, are supervised by the doctor.

Is there an advantage of seeking a second opinion at a research and teaching hospital?
Doctors at research and teaching hospitals typically have the latest treatments and technologies available to them. They also have valuable expertise in treating rare medical problems. Patients with especially difficult diseases which has failed conventional therapies or patients with rare illnesses will often seek out these large research and teaching hospitals. Because these doctors see a large number of these uniquely challenging medical cases, their experience is far better than a doctor in the community who may only see one case in an entire career.

Patients who would get the most benefit from a research and teaching hospital are those with medical problems that are rare or that have failed traditional treatments.

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