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Most of us have been to a doctor at some stage in our lives. We value the opinion and
treatment suggested by that doctor. However, in some areas of medicine, the risks to one’s
life are higher and therefore one needs to be sure that the suggested treatment is accurate.
Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery are areas where commercial interests can cloud the
decisions of professionals. In this context, I have always held this view that the patient
should take a second opinion or even a third from another doctor in the same field of
expertise. I give the example of mobile phones to my patients.
One does not buy the first model of the phone from the first shop that one steps into. We do a fair bit of background study of various models and go to at least 2 or 3 shops before finalizing our choice. Quite
similarly, why blindly follow the opinion of the first cardiologist or surgeon that you have
been sent to ? Here, it is a matter of life and death. If one can roam around for more
opinions to buy just a mobile phone, should one not put some extra effort to seek a second
opinion in matters related to the heart when the stakes are much higher.
Herein lays the importance of a second opinion. Spending a few rupees more as
consultation fees for the second or third opinion may save you a lot of money, in case the
first opinion, suggesting a costly procedure, was wrong. If the second or third opinion is the
same as the first, you can rest assured that you are on the right track. Also, your first doctor
need not know that you are seeking a second opinion.
This can avoid any misunderstandings and keep your relationship with the first doctor free of conflict. You may continue your treatment with the first doctor even after taking a second or third opinion if
they are all consistent. Therefore, getting a second opinion will put you at ease medically and psychologically, that you are getting the treatment you truly deserve as per
Dr. Vijay M Natarajan
MD(USA) MS M Ch DNB FIACS
Head, Poona Hospital, PUNE
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