The importance of getting a second opinion

In a recent poll, conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Invisalign (who sponsored this post), 70 percent of respondents said they would seek a second opinion for a costly vehicle repair, more than half would for a major car repair, and 30 percent would for personal electronics repair. By contrast, just 19 percent said they would seek a second opinion for a medical condition, 17 percent for a medical procedure and a dismal 6 percent for dental work.


Invisalign conducted a nation-wide survey to support an educational campaign they recently launched that highlights the importance of getting a second opinion when considering teeth straightening procedures. The intention is to prompt consumers to consider getting a second opinion, especially when it comes to your most important asset, your smile.

While emergencies, such as broken arms and emergency tooth extractions may not warrant a second opinion, most things in life do. From car repairs to an estimate on having your kitchen refinished to dental problems, I’ve learned the value in getting that second (or third) opinion. Not only does it sometimes give you an option to consider, it helps you to feel stronger about your decision. And when you’re talking about your child’s health or your own, confidence in your decision as well as strength in knowledge is imperative.

Realizing the importance of a Second Opinion: My Story

I avoid confrontation as best I can. Well. I did. I mean, I’ve gotten better at it, sure. But I’ve always been the type to just take a professional’s advice and consider it the be-all, end-all. Done.

Meaning, when I was younger, I never got a second opinion. I never saw a need. I always wanted to please everyone and just accept whatever people told me. I mean, really? If a person with a good reputation tells me something, I’m certain that’s all I need to know.

All this. Until I had my own kids. Something triggers in you when you have kids and, suddenly, acceptance isn’t as important as believing. Upon motherhood your gut goes into gusto and suddenly there’s nothing more important than trusting it. (Well, most of the time. If I trusted my gut every time I entered the airport I’d still be stuck in San Francisco 3 years ago. Or, really, I never would have gotten there.)

But I digress. Second opinions are an integral part of our health network. A part of your rights that cannot be ignored. Ever. I’ve heard of cases where it was a difference of life and death. In my case, the time that I first learned this lesson, I was 31 and Middle was about 2 weeks old. I was exclusively breastfeeding and he broke out in a crazy rash. His body was a prickly-pimply red, especially his belly and chest, though it crept up to his face and down his limbs. My tiny second born had had been unexposed to anything “different” in the world, so I was obviously concerned enough to make an appointment with our pediatrician.

About 3 weeks prior, the pediatrician’s office had a pretty big shake-up. Our beloved PA moved to a group closer to her home and half of the other doctors left to form a competing family practice. (It’s fairly obvious here that there were internal problems, yes?) So, my appointment that afternoon was with a doctor was was fresh out of med school and her practice was just getting started.

I was excited to meet her, really. I have always thought that, like new teachers, new doctors were best suited to treat patients. They hav that excited newness and knowledge from school, internships and varied field-experience. New doctors are ready to prove themselves and have all the best technology to guide them on hand.

20 seconds into checking out his skin, the doctor turned to me with a smile. “It’s milk,” she said confidently. “He has a milk allergy. You need to either stop breastfeeding or just stop eating all dairy, because the dairy your feeding him is causing this rash.”

“Milk…?” I questioned. “Are you sure?” She was certain.

I went home, shaking. How could my kid be allergic to milk? How could I just cut out dairy, just like that? Could I be that dedicated to my son’s health that I’d keep breastfeeding? Of course I could, don’t be silly, I told myself.

I went home and changed our dinner plan. And then I called some friends and cried. The first friend had a son with a dairy allergy. She’d cut all dairy and breastfed for a year. I could do it if she could. So I asked her her secret. Instead, she asked me what was wrong with him? I described the rash. That’s funny, she said. Her son showed completely different signs of a milk allergy, but her doctor sent her on to an Allergist before declaring an allergy. You need a second opinion, she said. Not one, but three of friends recommended a second opinion. I considered going back to the same practice, but I was too embarrassed. That would mean that I didn’t trust the doctor. That would be like (horrors) confrontation.

That’s when I realized that all three friends who recommended a second opinion took their kids to a different practice than I. They all went to the same one. Taking a deep breath, I called that practice.

Of course, it was completely full and they weren’t taking on new patients. But I must have seemed desperate, because they told me they weren’t taking new patients, but were making appointments for consultations, as long as I was okay with an appointment with the new doctor. Apparently, I’d found my way “in.”

I weighed the opportunities: cheese and a consultation versus no cheese. You can guess my choice.

The next day, I lugged Middle, tucked in hi’s car seat into the new office. Dr. Alex introduced herself, asked what the problem was, and took a thorough look at Middle. All of Middle. “How long have you been off dairy?” she asked. It was around 24 hours. “Well…” she started, looking carefully again. “I want to be certain about this, but I’m pretty sure that’s not a dairy allergy. But. Before I say for certain… give me a minute.” And she walked out.

I waited about 45 seconds before she was followed into the room by man in a white lab coat. Introductions were made as Dr. Rob handled Middle turning him, gently touching his bumps, looking closely. “They told you this was a milk allergy?” he asked. Yes. “They were certain?” Yes. “Well, I don’t want to say they were wrong, but I’ve seen lots of milk allergies and this is not one of them. I really just think this is a normal skin rash that will go away in a few days. Pleasure to meet you,” he extended his hand. “Good job, Dr. Alex.”

Dr. Alex shyly smiled. “You were pretty sure f that, weren’t you?” I asked. She agreed. “Why did you bring in Rob?”

“Because there was no way I was going to declare a child not allergic to milk on my own. That’s a big diagnosis either way. And, as a parent, I’d expect more than one opinion on it,” said my child’s pediatrician.

That. That was enough to seal the deal. We were immediately made room for as patients of the practice, I made his 4-week appointment that day and called on my way home from the office to have my children’s records transferred.

Second Opinion Sweepstakes and Instant Win

To help bring awareness to the importance of a second opinion, Invisalign is giving away $50 a day in instant win prizes through Oct. 15 plus a chance to win a $1,000 grand prize in their Second Opinion Sweepstakes and Instant Win. You can enter every day!

Invisalign Instant Win Second Opinions

As with any medical procedure, consider getting a second opinion if you are told you or your child is not a candidate for Invisalign. Not all dentists and orthodontists are certified Invisalign providers, the best way to find an Invisalign provider is to visit the Invisalign Doctor Locator.

This post is sponsored by Invisalign. Note, it’s true, my oldest is Lactose Intolerant. This was not diagnosed until he was four (when Middle was two.) There is a difference between Lactose Intolerance and a Dairy Allergy.

mom of 3 and wife living in the Philadelphia suburbs, Julie is a former elementary school teacher and a Public Relations manager. She is the owner/editor of Julieverse, a merchandiser with Chloe + Isabel ( and founder VlogMom and Splash Creative Media. A marketing strategist and freelance education and parenting writer by trade, Julie attempts to carve out time to enjoy playing with her kids, PTO, cooking and exercise.

© 2013, Julie Meyers Pron. All rights reserved.

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