Seeking a Second Opinion for Back Pain: What to Know About Patient Rights

November 21, 2017 | Patient Rights

Making decisions about healthcare is a personal process. If your physician recommends spinal surgery as the only treatment for your pain, it may seem like a choice should be made almost immediately. Unless you find yourself in an emergency situation, seeking a second opinion for back pain helps you gain control of your health and allows you to investigate nonsurgical spine treatments.

Many patients do not realize it is their right to seek second opinions. Coastal Spine, a spine specialist in New Jersey, put together information about patient rights, and what you should do when seeking a second opinion for back pain.

Patient Right to a Second Opinion

Although seven states have health laws about patients’ rights to a second opinion, statistics show that less than one-third of all patients pursue them. Additionally, many patients do not understand the diagnoses they receive. Consulting with another physician is a way to confirm and become more comfortable with a specific diagnosis. With a comprehensive review of all possible treatment options, patients can move forward confidently.

What to Do When Seeking a Second Opinion

The most important thing you can do is prepare before your second opinion appointment. Document all test results, information related to your diagnosis/treatment, and all correspondence, including phone call details and email exchanges. This helps to avoid repeating tests or rehashing old information. You want your second opinion to build on past information. As part of your preparation, write down questions, so you do not forget anything during the appointment.

Also, be sure to review your insurance plan, including its language on second opinions. Do second opinions/procedures require preauthorization? Seeking a second opinion for back pain is smart, but you do not want to be surprised by additional costs.

Considering second opinions after receiving a treatment plan that requires surgery is not only a good idea to better understand your diagnosis, but it is your right as a patient. As you look into nonsurgical spine treatment, remember to prepare by documenting your past results, write down your questions to make the most of your appointment, and review your insurance plan.

Still not sure if your diagnosis and treatment plan warrants further investigation? Check out our blog post, “When and Why Patients Should Seek a Second Opinion for Back Pain.” Also, you can download our whitepaper to learn more about Coastal Spine’s non-invasive treatment options.