How important is a second opinion?

One of our co-workers has been diagnosed by her family physician with polycythemia. Now she is a bundle of nerves because she’s been given a “death sentence”. Every web site she’s checked says average life span after detection is 11 to 13 years. (She’s in her mid 40’s) She said that her doctor has not suggested going to a specialist, so she won’t go because she “trusts” her doctor. I said not good enough, like the Russian saying says “Trust, but verify.” I feel any professional would send her to a hematologist to get confirmation one way or the other. What can I tell her that would convince her to get a second professional diagnosis?


Here’s a site with more info. It seems possible to diagnose it with a relatively simple blood test and medical history.

However, I can’t even imaging accepting such a diagnosis without seeking a second opinion, considering that it may mean the difference between life and death. Frankly, it doesn’t matter what the medical condition is. Perhaps this is over the top, but how about suggesting that it would be unbelievably stupid not to do so.

Keep in mind that she may still be somewhat in shock over this, so give her a bit of time to think about it.

Once she begins a treatment protocol, she will be (or should be) monitored to judge the efficacy of the treatment. Such monitoring will likely serve as an after-the-fact second opinion.

There are many causes of polycythemia (high red blood cell counts). One of them, so-called polycythemia rubra vera, is related to leukemia.

As a specialist, I cannot conceive (or believe) that a family physician would/could ever make a firm diagnosis of polycythemia rubra vera.

In this type of situation, I’d get a 2nd & maybe 3rd opinion even if I had to pay out of pocket.

Ditto, Violet.

I just tonight sold insurance to a diesel mechanic who years ago had a part break and penetrate his hand. Transmission fluid was feared to be in his blood stream.

When he got to the hospital, he was told his left arm was going to be taken off at the elbow. Someone at Worker’s Comp told the hospital, “No way. Fillet that arm like a fish if you have to, but you can’t just take off his arm.”

Extensive surgury was performed, and two fingers were removed and then reattached. He now has almost full use of that hand, including both fingers, after a lot of physical therapy.

Thank God someone had a second opinion.