According to the law § 27b SGB V, those who have to undergo an already planned operation have the possibility of an additional specialist examination as a “second medical opinion”. If you have already made an appointment for the operation, but you still have unanswered questions or new questions, a “second opinion” from a competent and experienced doctor is the right opportunity to get all doubts out of your mind and to find out about the possible existence of alternative methods.
The right to have a second medical opinion refers only to those types of planned, non-urgent interventions. The law § 27b SGB V regulates this procedure on a legal basis and, among other things, indicates:
- to which interventions these provisions apply;
- what qualifications the specialist doctors who provide the “second medical opinion” must have;
- how to ensure that during the appointment with the second doctor, the patient is given neutral advice and he is informed about any conflicts of interest that may exist.
The right applies regardless of the public health insurance company with which you are registered.
Is it compulsory to undergo a specialist examination for a “second medical opinion”?
No, it is not compulsory. However, the doctor is legally obliged to inform the patient about the possibility of receiving a second opinion.
Why is the possibility of a second medical opinion offered?
In many situations, in medicine, different procedures are possible. It may make sense to wait and see what happens, rather than performing surgery immediately. In order to take the best decision, a neutral medical opinion on the procedure recommended by the first specialist can be obtained. You can discuss the need for the recommended procedure with the second doctor and clarify any questions or doubts you may have, or ask for advice on treatment options that can avoid surgery. However, the decision whether or not to have the surgery remains with the patient.
What information does the second doctor need?
The second specialist can best advise you if he can understand from a medical point of view why the procedure was recommended. Ideally, all previous test results and information about any previous treatments are required. All those results that were the basis for the first doctor’s decision to have an intervention.
So, if you want to seek a second medical opinion, it is a good idea for the first doctor to provide the patient (free of charge) with all the results of the tests already carried out or, even better, to send them directly to the second specialist.
Will the second specialist doctor require new tests to be done?
No further tests should be necessary. The second opinion is mainly based on the available results and personal discussion with the patient, but if he consider it necessary, he may also ask you to carry out further examinations. Usually the second specialist examines the medical need for the intervention recommended by the first doctor and informs the patient of his evaluation.
What happens after the second opinion?
The second doctor will give the patient his opinion; if desired, he provides the patient with a written summary of his evaluation. He may agree with the first specialist, recommend a different treatment or advise against taking any action. If the patient considers it necessary, the second medical evaluation can be shared with the first specialist.
Where can I find a specialist doctor for a second opinion?
On the website www.116117.de/zweitmeinung you can find a list of all qualified doctors who are authorised to give a second opinion, from the list you can choose the doctor you want. If you need help in choosing the most suitable specialist to give a second opinion, you can always ask the health insurance for advice and be helped in making the choice.
Where can I find information that will further help me make a decision?
On the website www.gesundheitsinformation.de/zweitmeinung you can find scientific proofed health information. The website also contains further information about the second medical opinion and a questionnaire to be filled in that help you understand which specialist you need to get in order to have a second opinion that is appropriate for your situation.