Childhood Cancer

Your Child in the Hospital

Get a second opinion

Most doctors welcome consultations and encourage second opinions. There are many gray areas in medicine where judgment and experience are as important as knowledge. In addition, many insurance companies require a second opinion. If, after discussions with the doctor, you are still uneasy about any aspect of your child’s medical care, do not hesitate to seek another opinion.

There are two ways to get a second opinion: see another specialist, or ask your child’s doctor to arrange a multidisciplinary second opinion. Many parents get a second opinion before moving ahead with any but the most routine or emergency treatment. You do not need to do this in secret. Explain to your child’s doctor that, before proceeding, you would like a second opinion.

Try to find an independent doctor to provide the second opinion because it may be tough for doctors who share a practice or regularly give each other referrals to provide entirely objective opinions. To allow for a thorough analysis, arrange to have copies of all records sent ahead to the doctor who will give the second opinion.

Sometimes, with complex illnesses or injuries, a group of specialists will meet to review the case. Ask your doctor about this type of multidisciplinary review if you believe your child needs one.

Parents often hesitate to ask for a second opinion because they are afraid of offending their child’s doctor. Your child’s doctor should not resent it if you seek a second opinion. If she does resist, explain that you need a second opinion to feel comfortable proceeding with the proposed treatment.

When Ian’s doctor recommended surgery to correct his eyes, which were starting to turn in, I was very reluctant to agree because Ian was so young. The doctor told me that without surgery, his eyes could get worse and would not be able to be treated in the future. I talked to a lot of other people and got a second opinion. At that point, we felt much more comfortable going ahead with the surgery.