When It's Time to Get a Second Opinion
Last updated: January 2023
Living with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, it is most likely that you have been told to "get a second opinion" at least once during your journey. Maybe it was encouraged by friends, family, or your medical provider. And maybe you were immediately on board with having another doctor take a look at your situation and make a recommendation on what they think is best, especially if you weren't thrilled with your current treatment plan.
Or perhaps you felt a sense of dread, knowing you would have to navigate the labyrinth of making an appointment, clearing it with insurance, and reviewing every part of your illness for yet another doctor.
Regardless of how you felt about potentially having a second set of eyes on your medical chart, there are a few great reasons to get a second opinion which can actually make a world of a difference in your unpredictable life with Crohn's or UC.
Why should you get a second opinion for Crohn's or UC?
You think your doctor has missed something
This may be one of the most common reasons one seeks out a second opinion. You may be feeling ill for quite some time yet all of the tests your doctor runs come back "normal" to which he/she says to just follow up in a few months if symptoms persist.
Having a second set of eyes on your test results, or conducting the tests/scopes again may lead to a proper diagnosis and treatment plan that gets you on the road to health quicker. It is truly amazing how different doctors assess and treat ailments differently, so having someone else review your medical records and results can have a much better outcome.
The current IBD treatment plan is not working
Speaking of doctors assessing and treating ailments differently, perhaps you have a proper (and correct) diagnosis, yet the medication you are on may not be working as well as you had hoped. Or you feel you need a more aggressive approach, seeing another physician can provide you with more treatment options that may be better suitable to treating your disease.
Do not feel like your current situation has to be permanent and that your suffering must continue. Sometimes, the simple act of getting a second opinion can truly change your life for the better.
You disagree or don't mesh well with your doctor
I have seen many patients disagree with their doctor regarding their medication, approach to treating the disease, or even the diagnosis of the disease itself. Sometimes, personalities don't mix well and you may be in search of a doctor with a more gentle bedside manner than that of your current physician.
Finding a physician who has the same ideologies and principles that you value is just as important as having a doctor who knows how to treat your disease correctly. Sometimes the "best" doctor in your area isn't right for you, and it is ok to continue searching for someone who lines up with your values.
Or, perhaps your GI suggests going on a biologic and you do not feel like your disease has progressed to the point that this is necessary. It is wise to get a second opinion before making such a big decision so that you can fully explore all options and weigh the pros and cons of each.
You'd like confirmation a treatment is the right decision
If you're like me, you may have sought out a second opinion just for peace of mind that your current treatment is correct. When I was first prescribed vedolizumab, I wanted to be sure that was the best drug for me and my disease. I saw a top GI in Philadelphia to confirm that he would also suggest the same course of treatment, and I was pleased to hear that he agreed with everything my current physician was doing to keep my Crohn's symptoms under control.
Sometimes, getting reassurance is the extra step needed to sleep better at night, knowing you are proceeding in the right direction with your disease.
Getting the best possible care for our Crohn's and colitis
Regardless of the reason you seek a second opinion, whether it be for better treatment, a doctor who "gets" you, or just for reassurance about your current plan, never hesitate to schedule an appointment with another doctor. Sometimes it takes a few months to get in as a new patient, so set up your appointment in advance and if you change your mind down the road, you can always cancel.
We are all entitled to the best treatment plan that will allow us to feel our best, mentally and physically, so don't ever stop seeking second opinions – or even 4 or 5 – until you are satisfied.
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