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5 Questions You Might Have About Second Opinions

Get Another Perspective on Your Cardiovascular Health

Whether it’s a busy schedule, a desire to get medical treatment close to home, or simply a reluctance to jeopardize an existing relationship with a primary care physician or specialist, there may be many reasons that prevent you from seeking a second medical opinion. But asking for a second opinion is very common, and it often changes your treatment decisions, especially when it comes to a heart and vascular condition that may require complicated testing, procedures or surgery.

How do you know when to seek a second opinion? And how do you go about getting one? Here are five things you should know.

When should I get a second opinion?

  • Your healthcare provider suggests a major medical test or non-emergency surgery
  • Your diagnosis is unclear
  • You have multiple medical problems
  • You have been told you have a rare or life-threatening condition

Where should I start?

Consult someone with at least the same level of expertise as your current healthcare provider. Look into specialists or someone at an institution specializing in your condition, such as Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute. Specialty providers and institutions are more likely to have leading-edge technology and a team of experts to review your case.

What should I tell my current physician?

Be honest and straightforward; most physicians will respect their patients’ right to a second opinion. Be sure to ask for your medical records so you can share them with the physician giving the second opinion. By law, your physician must provide these records to you, although you may have to pay a fee.

Will my insurance pay for a second opinion?

Most health insurance plans will pay for a second opinion, but be sure to contact your insurance company beforehand to find out. In some cases, if you don’t get a second opinion for a procedure, your out-of-pocket costs might be higher.

How do I prepare for a second opinion?

Before the appointment, research your condition and treatment options, and make sure the physician has received your medical records, including test results.

During the appointment, come prepared with some questions, and be ready to jot down notes or additional questions. If you can, bring a family member or a friend so that you both can remember as much as possible from the visit.

The First Place for a Second Opinion

To obtain a second opinion at Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, please call 312.NM.HEART (664.3278). Our patient access representatives will help you schedule an appointment with a cardiovascular physician at any of our four locations in Chicago and the surrounding areas. You will also receive instructions on how and where to send your medical records.