Even Washington residents who have had good relationships with their doctors over a period of years might find themselves in situations when they feel a second opinion could be useful. Knowing when to seek a second medical opinion as well as how to seek a second opinion is an important way of protecting oneself and advocating for one's own health.
As for when it might be appropriate to seek the input of another provider, WebMD offers some insight and guidance. Upon receiving a diagnoses that is serious and potentially terminal, getting corroboration from another doctor can be useful. Similarly, if a patient does not fully understand a diagnoses, talking to someone else is a good idea.
When it comes to treatment options, anytime that a medical professional recommends the participation in a medical trial or the use of an experimental drug or procedure, alternative ideas should be sought. The recommendation of a very risky treatment path might also warrant seeing if another provider has a different point of view.
The Patient Advocate Foundation notes that reputable providers will not be threatened by a patient wanting a second opinion and may in fact be a good referral source for a second opinion. Before talking with a second doctor, patients should gather all office visit notes, test and lab results and other documentation together to share with the new provider. Some people find that a second opinion gives them a preferred option of treatment or may even identify a problem that had been missed originally.