Getting a second opinion on health issues

(CNN) – When you’ve been handed a diagnosis whether it’s asthma or cancer you can feel overwhelmed and confused. And, navigating the healthcare system is not always easy.

About a year and half ago, Beth Fairchild’s mammogram came back clear. Yet, she would later learn she actually had stage 4 breast cancer. Beth’s story resonates with Leslie Michelson. He was just 17 years old when his dad was told he needed open heart surgery.

“I picked up the phone, I called the head of cardiology at a major New York academic center, I got my dad a second opinion, it turned out he didn’t need the surgery, there was nothing was wrong with his heart and my dad lived for almost 40 more years and never had a heart problem,” said Leslie Michelson, author of “The Patient’s Playbook”

Michelson points out most Americans live within one hundred miles of a major city and academic medical center with specialists who take Medicare and most insurance plans.

Also, in “the patient’s playbook”, he says everyone can get the best outcome by:

  • Finding a strong primary care physician and developing a bond.
  • Collecting medical records and writing a family health history.
  • Recruiting a healthcare quarterback – a friend or family member. Studies show patients who have help, do better and, getting to the right specialist if the diagnosis is serious.

“What I encourage everybody to do is go online to the nearest city, find an academic center, see who the experts are and call them and make an appointment,” said Leslie Michelson.

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