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Second Opinion

Second Opinion

What is Second Opinion?

In medicine, the opinion of a doctor other than the patient’s current doctor. The second doctor reviews the patient’s medical records and gives an opinion about the patient’s health problem and how it should be treated. A second opinion may confirm or question the first doctor’s diagnosis and treatment plan, give more information about the patient’s disease or condition, and offer other treatment options.

The General Medical Council, which regulates doctors, state that all doctors must ‘respect the patient’s right to seek a second opinion’.


The Department of Health accepts that if a doctor thinks that it is in the best interest of the patient to refer for a second opinion, they should do so.   Although you do not have a legal right to a second opinion, a healthcare professional will consider your circumstances and whether a second opinion is needed.

Do You Need a Second Opinion?

Before asking for a second opinion, it is worth asking your consultant team to go over your diagnosis and explain anything you don’t understand.  If you’re unhappy with your diagnosis or would like to consider a different course of treatment, discuss this with them.   Your consultant team will be happy to explain things and in many cases there may be no need for a second opinion.

Your family or carer can also ask for a second opinion on your behalf, but only with your consent.  If someone requests a second opinion on your behalf, they should have all the information about your illness or condition, and check they understand it thoroughly.

Sometimes a consultant may ask a colleague to provide a second opinion.  For example, doctors may ask a colleague about a complicated case, or they may need to refer a patient to a consultant with a sub-speciality interest e.g. hand or finger surgery.

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