by Lawrence Spindel DDS, Wenesday February 26,2007 7:00 Am
Second Opinions can be valuable for patients , especially when a patient is dealing wuth a difficult medical or dental decision. Often times a patient coming to me for a second opinion has been given one or two treatment plans and either the patient is unhappy with the recommendations or can’t afford the plans. Often it turns out that the treatment plans that have been proposed are viable options for the patient, but they haven’t been explained it in a way that makes the patient comfortable . Some times, all that is necessary is for me to make a better explanation of the proposed treatment including a better expanation of why the treatment is needed.. Of course there are times I don’t agree with the proposed treatment plans at all, but that occurs in the minority of second opinion consultations.
It is important to note that dentistry is an art, not a science and when I am examining a patient with complicated problems I myself can come up with four or five viable treatment plan options for a patient , all of which are valid, especially when a patient’s financial capabilties are considered. Usually there is not one perfect treatment plan, but instead, each of the plans has possitive and negatives and it is only after a patient considers each of these that they are comfortable enough to make a decision.
Also, sometimes a patient likes a proposed treatment plan, but can’t figure out how to be able to afford it within the next 3 months. In this case, sometimes what is necessary is to help the patient plan a staged treatment plan, with multiple steps involved, spread out over time. That way, the patient can better afford the treatment and will be able to accept it. In this case it is very important to propose a plan that will minimize the likely hood that conditions will deteriorate while they are waiting for the completion of their treatment. Although it might be better and less risky to complete their treatment in a shorter time period , this is often not an affordable option for this patient and the only way they will be comfortabe with that treatment plan is to srtecth it out.
Although this is not meant to be a definative article about second opinions it is meant to explain just some of the reasons that they can be helpful for patients making difficult medical or dental choices.