The Big in Japan column titled “Second opinion: Should you trust your doctor?” in the Dec. 9 edition was a good opportunity to rethink how to consult a doctor.

What matters most is a doctor’s quality. Some physicians just look at the screen of the PC in front of them, inputting medicine to be prescribed and checking the next appointment. They don’t give themselves the leeway to listen closely to their patient. Others are not willing to offer a detailed explanation to their “amateur” patients because they regard them as ignorant of medical knowledge. Under such terrible one-way communication, patients should immediately go to another doctor, taking with them all their medical records and documents, so that they can protect themselves.

However, I agree that second opinions are no panacea, as shown in this article, because doctors might make a misdiagnosis or commit malpractice. To reduce the chance of mistakes, we patients should pay more attention to symptoms, disorders and diseases to obtain the appropriate level of knowledge. If we are not satisfied with what the second doctor advises, we should go to a third. Patients can do this if we are armed with enough medical information, including which are the best experts and hospitals.

Moreover, doctors’ reputations, including their interactive communications with patients, are readily available on the internet, making it easier for us to decide who is the most suitable so we can go to the right physician.

Second opinions are a good choice for patients, though they have both their bright and dark sides. Therefore, patients should seek them out carefully.


The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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