Even if it confirms what you already know, it’s worthwhile to seek out a fresh perspective on your case. Peace of mind is priceless in the unpredictable world of RA.
Developing the right treatment plan for your rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is no easy feat. The journey that comes with a diagnosis of RA can be frustrating and confusing, and many of the available resources often leave you with more questions than answers. If you are consistently finding yourself hitting treatment dead ends, it may be time to seek out a fresh perspective on your case.
A second opinion is when you choose to see another rheumatologist, doctor, or healthcare professional after you’ve received a diagnosis and a treatment plan for a medical condition.
The second professional usually reviews all of your medical history and previous records. Then, they share with you their interpretation of your medical diagnosis. They may agree with the current plan, offer some suggestions for adjustment, or want to run additional tests of their own.
Your rheumatologist may have the best reputation in town. They may be the kindest person you have ever met. Maybe they were even top of their class at a renowned institution. You may have trusted them for years, or even decades, with your RA. This should not stop you from asking other medical professionals and rheumatologists for their opinions.
Remember, people make mistakes every day. Rheumatologists, and other healthcare professionals, are not immune to this fact.
Among medical professionals, there are different styles of practice. Some are more progressive when it comes to new treatments and clinical trials, while some are more conservative and tend to lean toward more traditional methods of treatment. With this variation, a diagnosis or treatment plan can differ greatly.
Medical decisions should be considered with care, as you do with the other big decisions in your life. Have you ever poked your head out of the fitting room to get an opinion on a dress you’re trying on? You would never buy a house, a car, or a washing machine without comparing prices, reading other customer reviews, and asking a long list of questions to a trusted professional.
Second opinions are actually quite common in medicine, especially rheumatology. Most rheumatologists are comfortable with their patients getting second opinions. They understand that RA is challenging to manage and that different professionals often have various resources available to them.
Training in medical school varies, too. Rheumatologists understand that new research is published every day, and they want to help you find it, whether that be with them or with a different specialist in the field. Some rheumatologists may even refer you out, especially if your treatment goals and additional health goals do not align with their specialty.
RA can be very confusing. Sometimes the diagnosis and treatment options aren’t clear. It’s a good time to consider a second opinion when:
You have decided to seek out a second opinion. Where do you start? If you plan to seek treatment through your insurance, call your provider first. See if you can find someone who is in-network, then search for information regarding location and availability. Call and ask if they are taking new patients and if they see new patients for second opinions.
If you are uninsured or want to explore out of network, you may be able to find professionals who offer direct patient care. Check your out-of-network benefits to see what your options may be.
Next, tell your current rheumatologist. Be open and honest that you are seeking out a second opinion. Your rheumatologist knows that second opinions can be helpful for a variety of reasons. They will most likely support you in doing this. You will need your current medical records to bring with you. There may be fees involved in printing these records.
When meeting with the professional you’re looking to for a second opinion, be open and honest. Tell them this is a second-opinion appointment. Be clear about exactly what you’re looking for to set the new relationship up for success. Here are some treatment goals that are common with a second opinion.
Even if your second opinion simply confirms what you already know, it is still beneficial. Peace of mind is priceless in the unpredictable world of RA. In this case, you will know you have done everything you can, and that you are on the right path when it comes to getting your RA symptoms under control.
Medically reviewed on July 12, 2022
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