Getting a second doctors opinion

No matter how much you like and trust your doctor, there may be times when you want to get a second opinion from another doctor or a specialist with a different background. Doctors are used to patients asking about a second opinion. It is a way for you to take charge of your health care and make sure you are exploring all your options.

When should I get a second opinion?  

Consider a second opinion if:  

  • You are unsure about a diagnosis from your doctor.  
  • You and your doctor have been trying to find the cause of your kidney disease for a long time and you would like to take a new approach.  
  • Your doctor suggested a treatment and you would like another opinion to decide if it is right for you.  
  • You do not trust your doctor or feel they are a partner in your care. 
  • Your doctor does not include you in decisions about your care. 
  • Your doctor is unwilling to learn or explore other options to find the cause of your kidney disease. 

How do I get a second opinion?  

Before you get a second opinion, contact your health insurance provider to make sure your plan covers the costs. Then follow these 3 steps: 

Step 1: Find a doctor who can give you a second opinion  

To get names of other doctors or specialists, you can: 

Ask your current doctor. It may be hard to ask your doctor about a second opinion, but in most cases, your doctor will respect your wishes and help you. You could ask:  

  • "I am thinking of getting a second opinion. Can you recommend someone you trust?"  
  • "Before we start this new treatment, I would like to get a second opinion. Can you help me with that?"  
  • "If you had my symptoms of kidney disease, is there another doctor you would see for a second opinion?"  

Contact your health insurance. Keep your care costs lower by using a doctor who is covered by your health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid or other health plan. Call the number on the back of your insurance card and ask:  

  • "Does my plan cover the costs of a second opinion for my kidney diagnosis?" 
  • "What are the names of other doctors in my area who could give me a second opinion?" 

Look into support services at your hospital. Your hospital may have social workers, counselors or a kidney disease support group who can connect you with other kidney doctors. They can also connect you with support groups of people going through similar experiences who may share the names of doctors near you. 

Find a list of nephrologists who specialize in treating rare kidney disease from NephCure. Their website aims to help people with rare kidney diseases connect to expert care and new treatment options. 

Step 2: Schedule a visit with the second doctor 

When you call to schedule a visit, ask: 

  • "I have health insurance through […] plan — is this doctor in my plan's network?" 
  • "How can I have my health records sent to you from my current doctor's office and how long does that usually take?" Allow plenty of time for your health records to arrive at the second doctor's office before your scheduled visit. 

Step 3: Go to your second opinion visit 

During your visit, you will talk about your kidney disease, possible treatments and you may have a physical exam. To get the most out of your visit: 

  • The day before, call to make sure the doctor received your health records. 
  • Bring a list of your questions and paper or your phone to write the doctor's answers. Even better, bring a friend or family member to write the notes for you. 
  • Ask the doctor to send a copy of their report to your primary care doctor — this keeps all your health information in one place. 

What should I do after a second opinion? 

When you have the information and test results you need, go over them with your primary care doctor or the kidney doctor of your choice. Talk about: 

  • Treatment options and how they may affect your daily life 
  • If you need more tests 
  • Questions or concerns you still have about the next steps 

If your first and second doctors agree on the next steps, your decision is probably clearer. If they do not agree, consider talking with your primary care doctor, another doctor or your loved ones to help make decisions about which path to take.