People should check with their health insurance provider to make sure the cost of a second opinion is covered. Usually it is. They should also ask about and follow any special procedures for getting a second opinion.
People can ask their doctor to recommend another doctor or specialist. Most doctors welcome another opinion. However, the second doctor should not be a close associate of the first because they may share the same perspective. If people do not feel comfortable asking their doctor, they may be able to ask another doctor they trust. If not, university teaching hospitals, specialty medical societies (such as the American College of Surgeons), or insurance providers can often provide names of doctors.
People should have their medical records sent to the second doctor before the visit. That doctor then has time to look at the records, preventing unnecessary repetition of diagnostic tests. Because of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), people are required to give written permission to their original doctor to forward any records or test results.
People should write down questions and concerns about their disorder and bring the list to discuss with the second doctor.
People should go to the doctor to get the second opinion. They should not rely on the telephone or Internet. For a second opinion to be meaningful, the doctor should thoroughly review the medical records and do all relevant parts of a physical examination.