Second opinions can be good for all concerned
“I want a second opinion” is a line many of us have heard on TV when a character receives bad news from a doctor. From this example we get the sense that a physician should fear second opinions, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Second opinions can improve the care of patients and help a treating doctor deepen their relationship with a patient, especially when big medical decisions need to be made.
In my Orthopedic career my most memorable experience with second opinions was in the clinic of Donald Wyss at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in LA. Dr. Wyss saw many second opinions, often people who had fractures repaired by other doctors. Some of his patients had complications. Many were struggling to recover from life-changing injuries. They all wanted to tap into his expertise to guide their recovery.
Dr. Wyss spent a lot of time with these patients. He always let them know what he thought about prior treatment, but he also noted that he had previous patients with similar issues to acknowledge that we are all human as surgeons and have our complications. My second opinions are heavily influenced by Don’s calm manner.
As a physician I wish that many of my patients had the choice of a second opinion. Spending an hour with every new patient allows time to go over all options for treatment of shoulder, elbow and knee injuries but sometimes a different way of describing the options might resonate better with patients. Deciding whether or not to take on the risk of surgery is a major decision and weighing two different options can expose some of the uncertainty that both patients and surgeons face.
I also see second opinions of patients who have already had surgery. In these cases just knowing that recovery is going as expected can relieve anxiety. A second opinion can also identify meaningful ways to improve recovery by changing rehabilitation focus and can also determine more precisely when activities can be started again such as returning to golf, increasing duties at work and travelling.
Although finding a good second opinion as a private Orthopedic surgeon in Canada is hard, I still welcome the times when I share the care of patients. Competing opinions teach both patients and their practitioners that there are many unanswered questions in medicine.
Let us know if Acumen Clinic can help you with your life-changing decision about your Orthopedic care.
Dr. Jesse Alan Slade Shantz
Orthopedic Sports, Elbow and Shoulder Surgeon
Founder Acumen Clinic
+1 (587) 599-5345