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The importance of second opinons

Second opinions: scary or sacred?

​Patients have one body, one life.

I have one brain.

There is a limit to how much physio knowledge, experience and skill I can ram into my brain and, on top of that, a limit to my ability to use that knowledge.

So the obvious way of making sure that my patients get the best physiotherapy treatment possible is to make sure I get other brains involved. I am very lucky, I have colleagues who are exceptionally good physiotherapists and osteopaths and I am privileged to be able to refer my patients to them for second opinions.

It is pretty obvious really but it never ceases to amaze me how reticent most medical sorts are to recommend their patients seek a second opinion. Why is this? Is it simply an ego thing, a fear of failure, insecurity in their own practice or is it something to do with the unrealistic expectations that our society has of docs, physiotherapists, osteopaths and other clinical professions? Whatever the reason they are doing their patients and themselves an injustice.

I am yet to meet a patient who respects me less for asking them to seek a second opinion, as a patient myself I am always impressed when a clinician seeks a second opinion. So why doesn’t it happen more? Am I missing a trick? How can we encourage our fellow clinicians not to be scared of second opinions?

As ever in eager anticipation of your comments.

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