Thursday, July 31, 2014

Second Opinions are not just for people

In the last few weeks I have seen quite a few second opinion appointments, and met some very
devoted cat owners.

One gal has a handsome 5 year old cat who was diagnosed with sudden onset of  renal failure and given a very poor prognosis.   She was not prepared to give up, and was searching for more options.

One couple have a very sweet middle aged cat that was having a hard time jumping up and had a weak back end, and was told she was arthritic, but they were not comfortable with this diagnosis, and wanted further testing.

And I met a very concerned couple with quite a sick cat. She was not getting better after several weeks of medical care, and they wanted to pursue other treatment options.

 This got me to thinking about when and why people reach out for a second opinion.   Where do you turn?   Who can you trust?    When do you get a second opinion?

 Please remember:

Feel comfortable about getting a second opinion!  You will not be hurting anyone's feelings or ego by doing this. Second opinions are well accepted in this time of  progressive veterinary medicine.   Remember, getting your pet better should be  EVERYONE'S goal.

Research your options.  Many clinics may refer you to a local 24 hour emergency facility only.  But that does not mean you can't explore other options.  Many private clinics "specialize" in certain types of medicine or certain species or alternative therapies.

Consider alternative treatments for common problems, if you are uncomfortable with the options you are currently being offered.  If surgery is the only option you are being give, perhaps there are non-surgical options available at another clinic. Make some phone calls.  Clinics are happy to discuss their services by phone.

Ask questions.  You can never ask too many questions!  

Your pet's radiographs, lab results and ultrasounds  may be  digital, and easy to send by email or on a CD disk.  Be sure you transfer this information along with a copy of your pets medical record.

Expect a second opinion appointment to take 45 minutes or longer, especially in a complex case.

And Don't:

Don't feel you are locked in to this second opinion.  You are just researching your options.  The final treatment decision is yours alone.

Don't scrimp on testing.  Second opinions should ALWAYS include a thorough physical examination, and probably repeat testing as well.  Things change over time, and trends in lab work or radiographs are often very important information.

Be careful of the internet.  "Dr. Google"  is not a legitimate second opinion!

And if you want an update of my 3 patients... 
 My renal failure case is eating well, gaining weight, taking his medication well,  finished with his acupuncture treatments and is back to  playing with his housemate buddy!
My arthritic case ended up having an enlarged spleen, is under medical treatment (both western and Chinese herbal medication) , and feeling good again, jumping and running and acting her playful self
My sick patient has finished her medication, her fever is gone, and her appetite is finally back to normal.  

Please share this is you know someone that is considering a second opinion.

Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic