Getting a second opinion - medical diagnosis

Have you ever gone to get a second opinion - or even third - opinion about a medical diagnosis or treatment plan?

We’d love to hear from you about the circumstances in which getting a second opinion may be helpful, and if that opinion was different to the first, how you ended up making a decision. If you’d rather not post on this noticeboard, you can email me directly at Thanks all!


I have gone for other doctors when I did not feel the doctor:
.spent sufficient time to go through the background to, and the actual problem(s), or
.understood the issues from my point of view, or
.considered and explained the available options, or
.came up with a reasonable course of action based on my specific situation

I have also moved on to another doctor when I encountered one with:
. a lack of/outdated knowledge and an unwillingness to research,
. a patronizing attitude
. a pontificating attitude, and
. one who was bombastic and would not accept that I was better informed about my rare illnesses than they were. (I felt that doctor was insecure in their situation and did not want to admit to any weakness.)

And yes, I have seen many, many doctors over the course of my life.


I had been going to the same dentist for around 15 years. On a regular check-up visit, I mentioned that I had one tooth that had become overly sensitive. Dentist took just 30 seconds to diagnose a cracked cusp. Told me I needed root canal therapy and a crown to follow.
Fearing $$$$, I sought the advice of a different dentist. He told me that there was no way that I had a cracked tooth. Also prompted me to read up on the problem, and I discovered that a cracked cusp is tricky to diagnose - certainly couldn’t be done in 30 seconds like the original dentist claimed to have done.
Real problem was receeding gumline which is now under control.


Worse than learning such things from a second opinion is a dentist (or any practitioner) working beyond their skill level. Shortly after arrival in Australia I had a very delicate crown fall off and not having a relationship I called around until I found someone who could have a look in a reasonable time. The dentist put it back and I went to him for a few years. The crown eventually cracked and I learnt it cracked because he ground it for the bite. He did not understand/have the skill that if he seated it properly it should have been OK, or secondly if any grinding was needed it should have been on the opposing tooth.

I subsequently found a great local dentist who does as good work as I have ever seen.


I’ve been going to the same GP in Sydney for 15 years now, she’s fantastic. However, I lived in Canberra for three years in the middle of those 15 years and was continually sick. I’d go to the university medical centre frequently complaining of a sore throat, blocked nose. This was in winter, so the doctors there (under lots of time pressure) diagnosed me with a cold about three or four times - one time even prescribing me antibiotics.

Fed up with continually being sick and vague diagnoses, I made an appointment to see my original GP in Sydney, who took the time to ask a few questions and examine me.

She came up with the real diagnosis - acid reflux. She was shocked that I’d been prescribed antibiotics when a cold or sinus problem clearly wasn’t the issue. A script for the issue and some guidelines on diet and a referral to a dietitian if I needed it, and I’ve had very few problems since!


Yes, my gynaecologist diagnosed me with cancer of the cervix and said I needed immediate surgery…

I was frightened and scared, but after talking about it with Mum I decided on another opinion.

No cancer, no surgery just antibiotics and the problem was gone.


After more investigation, it appears that my Gynaecologist was hunting for Government money to invest in him
and his new “cancer therapy” for women with cancer of the cervix…!!

Please please do not just listen to one Doctor if you are told you have a life-threatening problem and need invasive surgery!

Always get a second opinion, just to reassure yourself and your loved ones, oh, and the Bank Manager!


Glad you are ok . Thank god you got a second opinion .


Some years ago, while we were still dairy farming in Tasmania, my husband caught a virus and was sick for weeks. After some time, when all he could do was to haul himself out of bed and collapse into a bean bag, we consulted our GP. My husband was very short of breath, absolutely no energy, eyes watering and face puffy. The GP’s diagnosis - you’re just as sick as you want to be, go home and get back to work. Needless to say, I was furious so we consulted another GP.
This GP made no comment on the original diagnosis but said the situation wasn’t at all normal. 2 days later we were on the plane to Melbourne to see a specialist who diagnosed chronic fatigue and farmer’s lung. There were a list of things his body reacted to, but the worst was dust from hay and silage and house dust. That meant we were finished as dairy farmers and my husband had been given life sentence - the farmer’s lung was getting worse. Fortunately we had gone to another GP or I would have lost him by now. He’s been treated and although he still is allergic to dust, he’s now very fit and his lung capacity is fine.


Finding quality healthcare should not be a gamble.
Too many “medical professionals” care more about their own wellbeing than their patients wellbeing, they get paid wether the patient is cured or not and in a perverse way it is actually in their interests for the patient to remain sick.
We need a reporting/monitoring system that encourages people to report their medical outcomes and allows patients to comment on the quality of care they did or not receive, this would create a database that would enable other patients to identify where they can get real care, and identify lacklustre operators, thus helping improve good patient outcomes.
A similar reporting system could be applied to prescription medicines by putting a reply paid questionnaire in every box of medicine, that asks a few questions like, are you pleased or disappointed with the results of using that medicine, did it do what you were told it would do? were there any bad experiences/side effects you had not expected with that medicine and were there any unexpected positive benefits you experienced.
If we are not measuring results and outcomes we are just guessing about what really works.


Interesting ideas @john.cooper52.

There are already sites where you can rate doctors. If you search for specific doctors these often sites come up.


Yes, just a couple of times when it seemed to be needed - and it has worked out quite well.

While normally having confidence in our medical system, there were a couple of times when official advice seemed to be driven more by the profit motive than by good medical practice.

In both cases, a 2nd opinion was sought, and the advice was different. These examples were some time ago, and enough time has now passed to confirm that those 2nd opinions were the correct ones.


Over the course of my life I have had many xrays for a myriad of illnesses, dental, accidents and in the words of many GPs - “just to make sure”. Xrays are actually radiation, which causes cancer yet they are too often the first stop for just about anything.
Nobody can tell me at what point xrays start to pose a threat and I have no record of how many I have actually had. I am now reluctant to have mammograms in case they give me cancer looking for it!
I think there should be a register so a person knows when an xray is simply not worth the risk.


I hope I am not straying too far off topic, but here goes:

I would suggest that there is a fundamental problem with the way our current health system functions.

In general, medicine has moved from being a vocation to being a business. Practices claim they have costs to meet, such as staff, equipment, on-costs, etc. They have to keep making money to pay for these.

Because of the way Medicare pays based on those seven minute modules, the emphasis seems to have moved to ‘churn’. The emphasis is on getting patients in and out the door as fast as possible to maximize income. Any longer costs the doctor money, unless of course they can use another item number for a longer consultation. But the principle still applies.

The bottom line: Doctors lose money if they spend significant time with patients. This is why so many doctors only look for the easy answers.

In the old days :slight_smile: it was about dealing with individuals holistically/wholistically to ascertain and/or treat the fundamental cause rather than merely deal with the symptoms.

I would suggest that if the medical system spent the time to work on the fundamental cause of patients’ problems, and they are dealt with, it will result in far less visits to doctors, pathology, x-ray, hospitals etc, and costing less for Medicare and patients in the long run.

Spending time with patients would also mean that doctors had time to connect with patients. Diagnoses would hopefully be more accurate, and there would be far less need for patients to ‘shop around’.

So everyone would be a winner.


My main GP does not bulk bill, and I am fortunate to have enjoyed all of the benefits you have enumerated. She no longer accepts new patients excepting family members of those already on her books; her schedule is very full. She is just a very good GP and has a great relationship with her patients. The office charges roughly 2x the medicare rebate. The difference some dollars make!

Where the system goes off the rails is the limited funding for everything in the face of an aging and thus more medically needy population no matter how treated or not treated, where something has to get rationed, and time is the easiest, so here ‘we’ are.


I have!

First Dr was telling all is fine after initial test … 5 years later he was still telling me all is OK but to come back in 6 months to a year

Now considering that I’ve had annual check ups for 5 years with no answers …

New Dr and a tone of tests and checks out of pocket, and was told I had cancer …

Get second opinion!!


yes. quite a few times. first time was when i was young. was having issues in my early 20’s with aches and pains, stomach problems. long story short had xrays and doc sent me to a macquarie street sydney specialist. the specialist took one look and told me that i had osteoporosis and that i would never have children and be in a wheelchair by the age of 40. i went for a second opinion. the other doc laughed. bad x ray he said where one imprint was over another. anyway i am 62. have had children and am so fighting fit that i am on no medication whatsoever. if i had listened to the first doc i would have become negative and given up.
more recently i was sent to a supposed heart specialist for a stress test etc. long story short he not only confused my report by saying i was a male (i am female) but also quoted 3 medications i am not on and 2 other medications that he prescribed that he did not. be careful out there. come people should not be practicing. oh and on second opinion my heart is not so bad. am on natural stuff and doing quite well now.


I was originally going to get a Hip Resurfacing until HCF told me the day before my operation that I had to pay for $13,000 theatre fees (not what I was originally told). Since then in the public system (2 years later) I have been told that these are dangerous and lead to tumours and I need a full hip replacement. I am only 48 and reasonably young for this operation so will put up with the pain as long as I can until I actually believe one of the doctors knows what is best for my condition. Really frustrating all the differences of opinion.


Thank you for your very kind words

Cheers Natalie :slight_smile:


Ahh dental care is a problem . After moving my husband tried a new dentist when he had tooth ache. The dentist told him he needed a crown on the aching tooth plus another crown and 2 root fillings . After 3 visits and the dentist messing up the crown and breaking it several times whilst fitting my husband said thats it ! He went back to the dentist we normally use, no root fillings needed or any other crowns , just a bit of sensitive teeth toothpaste. Saved us about 5 thousand dollars !!! Lots or rogues out there .


Sorry, I can’t resist : …

Was he heavy? :rofl: