The Case for Second Opinions
Sometimes, you don’t feel heard. Sometimes, you need more information. Sometimes, doctors make mistakes.
Lisa Nanette*, a veterinarian in her early 40s who lives in Syracuse, New York, learned this first-hand when her doctor called her with some disappointing news after her biopsy.
The surgeon who removed a small sample of breast tissue for laboratory testing found evidence of breast cancer. He was so puzzled by the rapid growth that he consulted another specialist. They concluded that another surgery was necessary to confirm the diagnosis.
“I couldn’t believe this was happening.
One day, everything was fine; the next second, it wasn’t.”
The second biopsy turned into a third. Energetic and driven, Lisa was used to tackling problems head-on. She felt frustrated, powerless, and terrified by repeated lumpectomies that failed to achieve clean margins for the ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS).
By the third test, she had grown skeptical that her surgical oncologist was exploring all possible avenues of care, including genomic testing that could predict the odds of recurrence or development of invasive cancer. Her questions were met with brusque answers, and the treatment options became more and more severe. As a veterinarian, Lisa had a background in medicine and yet was kept in the dark about her treatment.
When her doctor handed her a vague, two-page pamphlet on breast cancer rather than answering her carefully-researched questions, "That was the moment,” Lisa states. “I began taking matters into my own hands.”
Taking Matters Into Her Own Hands
Lisa reached out to MD Opinions, a second opinion medical service. Within two days, she was able to consult with two top oncologists who completely changed her outlook as well as her course of treatment.
World-renowned breast cancer specialist William Wood, MD, coached Lisa through the process of seeking more comprehensive answers about her individual case and all options for testing and treatment before ultimately encouraging her to transfer her care to a new surgeon.
After Dr. Wood’s input, acclaimed reconstructive surgeon Michael Miller, MD, helped
Lisa rule out the need for a bilateral mastectomy, determining it unnecessary to maximize
her odds for complete recovery.
“Dr. Wood and Dr. Miller...reassured me that I was making empowered decisions with full understanding of what each procedure entailed and the testing that should be undertaken.”
Information Is Empowering
Despite what many people may think, second opinions are fairly routine. Jonathan Schaffer, an orthopedic surgeon at Cleveland Clinic, states “If your physician doesn’t support you getting a second opinion, see how fast you can run.” In fact, most doctors welcome a second opinion as it is most often an opinion that confirms their original diagnosis.
At minimum, second opinions can give a patient better peace of mind and encourage a more proactive approach to treatment. At best, second opinions can help a patient avoid unnecessary tests and improve outcomes.
How It Works
MD Opinions began in 2015 as Cancer Expert Now and has recently expanded its network to over 500 specialists and sub-specialists. Patients submit relevant lab work, including pathology reports and blood tests to an online, HIPAA compliant platform. From there, a top specialist examines all the material and schedules a 1:1 video consult with the patient and any family members who would like to join.
Most patients come to MD Opinions with these two questions:
Do I have the right diagnosis?
Am I on the right treatment plan?
MD Opinions can provide reassurance to both questions. And, the relationship doesn’t end at one consult. Patients can continue to confer with MD Opinions as their treatment continues.
MD Opinions + TouchCare
TouchCare has partnered with MD Opinions to ensure members feel reassured throughout their diagnosis and medical journey.
Each patient is matched with a TouchCare Health Assistant who can help with any headaches dealing with the medical industry. From scheduling appointments, confirming in-network physicians, finding affordable prescriptions to negotiating bills and claims, TouchCare is an invaluable resource that works seamlessly with the MD Opinions team.
MD Opinions provides medical expertise to ensure the best possible care.
TouchCare provides a personal assistant for all things healthcare related to ensure the smoothest experience with the medical system.
In the case of Lisa, she decided to change her course of treatment, which saved thousands of dollars and months of uncomfortable tests and countless hours of worry. However, for most patients, it is the feeling of reassurance that resonates the most, particularly when the treatment path doesn’t change. The ability to ask questions in an unrushed manner with a world-class specialist helps members confidently face the next phase of their illness.
“Thank you. With MD Opinions, I felt like I did everything I could.”
*Name changed to protect patient’s privacy.