When to get a second opinion
Uncertainty about surgery or a major medical procedure can drive the decision to seek a second opinion. It is important to have confidence in the diagnosis, and to get the most-current information about treatment options available to you.
For complicated, non-emergency medical situations, you should consider getting a second opinion any time you face:
- A potentially life-threatening disease
- An unclear or confusing diagnosis for your condition
- Any experimental or novel course of treatment
- Multiple and/or chronic medical conditions
- Widely variable costs in tests or treatments
Seeking a second opinion is often an important and necessary next step for patients with serious conditions.
Second Opinion Areas of Care
- Neurology and Neurosurgery
- Organ Transplantation
- Sexual Health
Lou and Jean Malnati Brain Tumor Institute at Northwestern Medicine
Learn about getting a brain or spine tumor second opinion
Full Location Details
Kidney, Living Donor Kidney and Pancreas
Liver Transplant and Intestinal Transplantation
If you're interested in a second opinion or consultation, please complete our pathology consults checklist. This checklist will ensure that we have all of the necessary materials in your case.
Please mail materials to:
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Central Specimen Receiving
251 East Huron Street
Chicago, Illinois 60611
Before your appointment
If you are seeking a second opinion, here are some considerations to keep in mind when preparing for your appointment:
- Contact your healthcare plan about obtaining a second opinion. Most health insurance plans will pay for a second opinion, but it is best to check beforehand. In some cases, if you don't get a second opinion for a procedure, you may have to pay a higher percentage of the cost.
- Be honest and straightforward with your current physician. Ask for your medical records so you can share them with the specialist providing the second opinion. By law, your physician must give these to you, however, you may have to pay for copies.
- Consult with a specialist who has at least the same level of expertise as your current healthcare provider.
- Research your condition and treatment options so that you arrive as well-informed as possible. This will make it easier for you to effectively discuss your healthcare situation.
- Make sure the specialist has received your medical records, including test results—prior to your appointment—or bring your records with you to your appointment.
- Sometimes two heads are better than one. Consider bringing a friend or family member to listen, take notes and to also ask questions.