I can’t tell you how frequently my patients ask if their doctor will be offended if the patient goes to a different physician for a second opinion or how many times a patient comes to see us for a second opinion. Sometimes they have family members that are scared and don’t want to believe they could really have PAH and they find a physician in their neck of the woods that they want to be involved. Other times the patient states they just weren’t getting answers they were comfortable with. Either way, any pulmonary hypertension specialist that is capable and confident in their ability to provide excellent care to PH patients will be open and even helpful in having their patients seek a second opinion.
A patient should feel comfortable seeking a second opinion at any time for any reason. Their current physicians should be willing to copy the patient chart and either send it with the patient or forward it on to the physician that will be providing the second opinion. They should be willing to discuss the patient’s case with the new physician at the patient’s or physician’s request.
It would be very appropriate to seek a second opinion for any of the following reasons:
- The patient has been told they have pulmonary arterial hypertension and
a right heart catheterization was never performed.
- They have been diagnosed with pulmonary arterial hypertension via a
right heart catheterization but their physician has not started them on any
- The patient has been correctly diagnosed with PH and been initiated on
therapy but has not improved or is feeling worse and has not been given
options for how to move forward.
- They have been diagnosed with pulmonary arterial hypertension and are
not currently being seen by a PH Specialist at a PH center.
- The patient does not have a direct contact person at the physician’s office
who is knowledgeable about PH and has a difficult time getting answers to
their questions or call backs from their messages.
- The patient does not feel confident in their physician or feels that they
aren’t able to communicate effectively with their physician for any reason
be it personality differences or a language barrier.
Once the patient has received their second opinion a choice must be made. Will the patient continue to receive care where they currently are or will they transition to a different physician? It is important for the patient to be objective while making this decision and not just pick the physician who is telling them what they want to hear but rather the physician that seems the most knowledgeable about their disease and had the resources to enact a treatment plan.