A Second Medical Opinion: More Certainty or Doubt?

Marina Virko
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Each German patient is entitled to obtain a second medical assessment. However the data as to the number of people actually using this right, and its influence on the ongoing therapy is still a subject of study. A number of medical practitioners sometimes express skepticism in regard to this option. 

Some health insurance companies have recently started to include second opinion procedure in their package as a service stipulated by regulations. For example Barmer GEK put a second medical opinion for patients with planned spine surgery into its comprehensive healthcare contract with сFPZ AG Cologne, a Pfizer Group company. About 1000 of the insured persons used this option. An interim results evaluation is seen by the insurance provider as positive.

Another large insurance company, Deutsche BKK, has even more experience with including a second opinion in the insurance package. It provided its insurance holders with the opportunity to get a second opinion in particular on orthopedic and cardiac conditions. In three years the company concluded that only in about 25 to 30 percent of cases the original opinion was the same as the second. However it is eventually up to the patient to decide which opinion to follow.

Another example of extensive engagement of second opinions is the German network founded in 2006 by the German Testicular Tumor Group. Upon patient consent its physicians can request an opinion on the appropriate therapy from specialists at major treatment centers through an electronic platform. The engaged physicians obtained second opinions regarding more than 3,000 patient cases. As a result, in every sixth case the second opinion resulted in a significant change of the therapy plan. At the same time approximately 15 percent of newly diagnosed testicular tumors in Germany are represented in the "Testicular Tumor Second Opinion Network".

The patient satisfaction

An update comes from a survey conducted by the Asklepios Group which interviewed 1000 German citizens about their experience with second opinions. According to the survey, about half of the respondents had already requested a second opinion from another specialist. Half of these patients had actively sought a second opinion themselves. In 32 percent of the cases the second opinion was initiated by practitioners and in 11 percent by hospital physicians. According to Asklepios, 94 percent of the interviewed patients who had already sought a second opinion were satisfied with the result because they felt it had helped them choose the most appropriate treatment.

The German Medical Association's (BÄK) statement on the second opinion option says: "From a physician's point of view a second opinion can be a key element to ensure quality since it supports the diagnostic process and facilitates collegial opinion exchange".

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Comments — 2

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Можно у вас заказать консультации нескольких специалистов по одному и тому же вопросу? Мне предлагают заменить коленный сустав на искусственный, не могу решиться.

Marina Virko

Разумеется, это можно сделать. Мы можем Вам предложить мнения ортопедов разных клиник, например, университетской, находящейся так сказать на вершине германской медицинской иерархии, специалиста одного из региональных центров эндопротезирования суставов или частной клиники. У каждой такой консультации есть свои «за» и «против». Medconsonline выступает в данном случае не только посредником между Вами и клиникой, но и может помочь Вам определиться с тем, какого рода консультация (или консультации) удовлетворят именно Ваши запросы.

Please avoid self-diagnosis and self-medication!

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