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When Your First Priority is a Second Opinion

Posted on May 15, 2019

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So you need a second opinion for your child. Now what?

There are many reasons to want a second opinion and the experts at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital are here to give you peace of mind for your child regardless of the diagnosis or condition. Maybe you just want to confirm that a diagnosis is correct, or you might want to know your treatment options. Sometimes there is a need for help interpreting test results or whether surgery is necessary.

“When your child is given a serious diagnosis, it is always acceptable and sometimes encouraged to obtain a second opinion,” assures Stacie Stapleton, M.D., director of the hospital’s Pediatric Neuro-oncology and Neurocutaneous Disorders programs. “This sometimes is initiated by the family, who desires to confirm the diagnosis and treatment recommendations, or sometimes initiated by the physician who is seeking input from an expert colleague. In either case, it is best if the family and physician discuss in advance, as the second opinion process can be time consuming to send records and attend a visit usually out of town, which may also incur some expense for traveling.”

Stapleton has been on both sides of the second-opinion situation and encourages all of her patient families to seek as much information as possible for a diagnosis affecting their child.

Tips to know:

  • You may want a second opinion if you aren’t getting a full understanding of the diagnosis. Your pediatrician or specialist should be able to explain any medical condition in a way that can easily be understood. He or she should be willing to answer questions and lead you to resources that can further explain what you need to know as a parent.

  • It is also important that you have a comfort level with your physician’s abilities. Ask about experience with your child’s specific diagnosis. Ask about board certifications. Don’t be afraid to ask. It is your right to know.

  • Your child or teen should feel comfortable with your physician. This can be another reason to consider a second opinion. The child should trust his or her doctor and feel at ease asking questions.

  • If you and your child are following instructions and still not seeing results, it may be time to consult another physician to ensure you have received the right diagnosis, and all of the diagnoses.

  • Another thing to remember is that most insurance companies do cover second opinions, but you may want to check with them first to see if any criteria need to be met.

  • Your pediatrician may also request a second opinion should the diagnosis be outside his or her specialty. This is a good indication that they want the very best for your child.

Take comfort in knowing most physicians understand the importance of having a second-opinion option available and will support your need to be well-informed. Don’t be afraid to tell them your intentions and seek all of the records you may need before attending that second opinion appointment.

“You will want to make sure you are truly seeing an expert in the particular disease or diagnosis to make sure you are making good use of your resources of time and possibly money,” Stapleton concludes. “Typically, most insurance companies will approve a second opinion regarding the expense of the office visit or any extra recommended tests.”

Should the second physician offer a different opinion, consider having the two physicians talk and then weigh all of the information you have received carefully before making a final decision.

Ideally your decision to seek a second opinion will offer you peace of mind in receiving the most well-rounded information possible.

Visit for information on how to get a second opinion from Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.

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