Dr. Cookingham Discusses Getting A Second Opinion
Lisa Marii Cookingham, M.D.
Columbia PREG Facility
Why does PREG offer second opinions?
We offer free second opinions for any patient who has been to another infertility practice and wants another perspective or perhaps a different point of view. Sometimes patients come to us because they have unanswered questions or concerns, or maybe they didn’t feel like the treatment plan that was suggested actually fits their needs or goals. Regardless of the reason, getting a second opinion is almost always valuable, because it allows the patient to feel more comfortable with their care, and gives them an opportunity to solidify a plan before moving forward with their infertility journey.
The investment that patients make when embarking on this journey is huge – from an emotional, psychological, physical, and financial perspective. So it is really important that they are at a place that fits their needs in all of those categories. Because what we do is so personal and private, patients want to be taken care of by someone who really understands who they are and what their goals are. Sometimes finding that person or clinic doesn’t happen on the first try, and getting a second opinion may help a patient to see that. If not, at least they then know that they have explored alternative options, and sometimes that in and of itself is the value of having a second opinion.
Do some patients even get second opinions within PREG?
Sure, sometimes patients within PREG will get a second opinion from one of our colleagues. While we all follow the same philosophy in treatment and practice, we have all had different professional and personal experiences. And, we all have very different personalities! I think that is really important when looking at a practice overall, too. Each one of us brings to the table similar knowledge, but we each have different areas within our field that we may champion. For example, if I see a new patient that has a very specific need that may benefit from one of my colleague’s experience and passion for that problem, I might even recommend that they get a second opinion from that doctor. At the end of the day, we are all working together to achieve the same goal – helping our patients to achieve their goals – and that often means that more heads are better than one.
Are patients worried about asking for a second opinion?
I think this is a common concern for many patients. They may really like the doctor they’ve met and worked with, and don’t want to offend them by seeking a second opinion. I am pretty open about encouraging patients to do so, if for nothing else, to confirm the plan we have developed. If your doctor doesn’t want you to get a second opinion, I would ask why. If they are following the standard of care, there should not be a concern about getting a second opinion. They may have a different style or approach or suggestions about what they think is best, but it shouldn’t be so drastically different that it’s shocking or surprising.
The truth is, the days of paternalistic medicine are gone, and that is a good thing. Patients are armed with so much information that they bring to the table now, and are so much more educated and interested in what is going on with their bodies. It’s important for me to integrate that into my approach when working with patients, and for them to know that they are part of the team that is going to help them achieve their goals. All perspectives are valid and recognized, and we strive to work together to blend our expertise and experience and each patient’s background to find something that works for them.
How many receive second opinions?
I would say we get a fair amount of second opinions from other practices in the region. The most common feedback I get is that they didn’t feel like they were being heard, or that their goals were not aligned with the plan that was presented to them. Sometimes, patients come to us because they are told their only option is IVF, and understandably, many are hesitant to jump straight to that because of the high cost and invasiveness involved. Also, if they don’t feel like they were given enough information or explanation as to why something was suggested, then patients are often uncertain or even skeptical of that recommendation. Although IVF is often the most successful treatment option, it is definitely not the only treatment option, and it is definitely not for everyone. My job is to find a treatment option that makes sense for the individual or couple, that meets their goals, but also gives them a realistic chance to be successful.
I think that’s what sets PREG apart from other clinics, and why most patients who come to us for a second opinion stay with us. We recognize that everyone comes to the table with a different set of goals, beliefs, and struggles – and that translates into more individualized care and a more personalized experience.
PREG has centers in Greenville, Spartanburg, Asheville, Columbia, and the Lowcountry where we offer highly personalized fertility care and management. Dr. Cookingham sees patients in our Columbia center. For more information on your reproductive options contact us today at 866.725.7734, or online at www.pregonline.com/contact-us.php