Mike’s Testimonial For Getting Second Opinions BEFORE Heart Surgery
Yes, I’m going to keep stressing this point for all the future patients and caregivers reading this blog…
Please get a second opinion! Today, 35% of patients fail to do so. Here is a great patient story that illustrates the value of second opinions:
My name is Mike. I am 47 years old and in 2003 was diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse. I was experiencing some bothersome leaky heart valve symptoms such as palpitations, insomnia, shortness of breath, and slight numbness in my extremities. The symptoms have been pretty well controlled with medication, although I do have my “off” days. I continue to bike ride and run on my treadmill regularly.
My main reason for writing is to stress the fact (as you have too) for obtaining a second opinion. I have annual echocardiograms and stress tests to monitor my valve.
In March of 2008, my cardiologist informed me that my last echo showed a significant increase in regurgitation. I was surprised, as I was feeling fine, even with exercise. After a few more tests, my cardiologist referred me to a surgeon.
I met with the surgeon. Five minutes after looking at my test results, the surgeon said, “We can do the surgery tomorrow or wait until the fall if you prefer”. I had opted for the later.
Lucky for me, my girlfriend’s cousin is a doctor at a well noted cardiac hospital. During my second opinion, I was so surprised at how much time these doctors spent with me compared to the doctors at my other hospital. After these doctors put me through their tests, they came to the conclusion that I do not need the surgery at this time. While I do plan on getting a third opinion, I feel much more confident with the care I receive at my “new” hospital. I was shocked to read in your book that 35% of patients did not get a second opinion.
To sum it up… I think smaller community hospitals may be fine for some minor surgeries, but for anything like heart surgery, do your homework and find a well noted hospital and an experienced surgeon.
I am not sure what the future holds for me, but if I do have the surgery, I will feel more confident due to the other opinions and choices in hospitals and doctors I had made already.
Thanks for a great heart valve surgery book Adam. You have helped many people!
Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of HeartValveSurgery.com.