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Follow Your Instincts: When to Get a Second Opinion for COPD

COPD Basics

June 03, 2024

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Photography by VICTOR TORRES/Stocksy United

Photography by VICTOR TORRES/Stocksy United

by Rebecca Isaacson

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Medically Reviewed by:

Thomas Johnson, PA-C

•••••

by Rebecca Isaacson

•••••

Medically Reviewed by:

Thomas Johnson, PA-C

•••••

Whether you’re new to COPD or you’ve had it for years, it’s empowering to know when to seek a second opinion.

Living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may lead to feelings of uncertainty and questions, from managing your symptoms to navigating various treatment options. You aren’t alone if you’ve ever found yourself second-guessing your medical care or seeking reassurance.

Whether you’re newly diagnosed or have been living with COPD for years, gaining clarity and peace of mind is an invaluable step in your journey toward better health.

As a nurse, I’ve seen many people seek a second opinion to verify their diagnosis and discuss additional treatment options. This is common in the medical world and ensures people get the right care for their health goals.

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When should you consider seeking a second opinion?

There’s no right or wrong time to discuss your diagnosis and treatment plan. Your questions and concerns deserve answers. Here are some scenarios when you might turn to experts for a second opinion.

Newly diagnosed with COPD

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with COPD, you might consider getting a second opinion to confirm your diagnosis. According to a study published in 2021, an incomplete evaluation for COPD or a misdiagnosis can sometimes happen.

A second set of eyes may offer reassurance that your initial diagnosis is correct. It can also ensure you get the proper treatment for your condition.

Exploring alternative treatment options

You may find that healthcare professionals offer different treatment options for your COPD.

These options include medications, oxygen therapy, and sometimes surgery. They depend on your doctor’s preference and your specific needs. Exploring treatment options gives you confidence that you’re making the right decision.

Your current treatment plan isn’t working

If you feel that your current treatment plan isn’t working or you have concerning side effects, you may want another opinion. Another doctor may offer a different treatment option. It’s worth investigating if you aren’t satisfied with your current plan.

You’re considering surgery

Having surgery is a big decision. You’ll want an expert opinion from the doctor specializing in the type of surgery you’ll undergo. They’ll be able to answer questions and offer alternative treatment choices if surgery isn’t right for you.

Coexisting medical conditions

If you have additional medical conditions, you may want to seek expert advice from other specialists in addition to your pulmonologist.

For example, congestive heart failure may accompany COPD, so a cardiologist will best manage your heart. Perhaps you have sleep apnea and prefer the expertise of a sleep medicine specialist.

You might need multiple professionals to offer specialized care so you can see improvements or learn how to manage your condition.

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How to get a second opinion

Getting a second opinion for COPD may seem daunting. Here are a few steps to make the process smoother:

Choose a doctor

Finding a health professional who listens to you and values your input will help you feel confident in your care. As you search for a doctor, you’ll want to find a pulmonologist with expertise in managing COPD.

Large hospitals that are partnered with medical schools have a wide variety of specialists to choose from. Word of mouth from friends, support group peers, or a family member may also be a good way to find a new medical doctor.

Gather medical records

Medical records will allow your new doctor to see which tests you’ve had and the treatments you’ve already tried. These will either be sent to your new doctor by request or sent directly to you.

If possible, plan to allow time for the request for your medical records before your first visit with a new doctor.

Prepare questions

Before your appointment, jot down a list of your questions and concerns. This will come in handy when you’re having trouble remembering your questions from a few weeks ago.

For example, you may want to ask which medications they commonly prescribe or if you’ll need oxygen therapy.

Communicate with your primary care provider

You should let your primary care provider know you’re seeking a second opinion. This information will allow them to collaborate with your new office and ensure you get the most out of your new care plan.

Takeaway

Seeking a second opinion for COPD can empower you to make informed decisions about your health. It’s a proactive step toward managing your health goals and can give you peace of mind that you’re receiving the right care for your COPD.

Medically reviewed on June 03, 2024

2 Sources

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About the author

Rebecca Isaacson

Becca Isaacson, BSN, RN is a freelance writer and Registered Nurse. She uses her writing and nursing background to educate and inform readers about health and wellness. She is passionate about empowering her audience to make informed decisions about their health. Becca received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Duke University.

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