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Getting A Second Opinion

All cancers can be complex and frightening diagnoses, and they should not be taken lightly. It is a good idea for everyone diagnosed to consider getting a second opinion. Richmond Surgical is both here for you if you are seeking a second opinion, and supports your decision to confer with other providers if we provided your initial diagnosis. Call us at 804-285-9416 today to discuss your options.


Unless your condition is life-threatening and requires time-sensitive emergency care, it is never a bad idea to seek a second opinion. In many cases, seeking a second opinion is not only warranted, but necessary. These circumstances include anytime the following occurs:

  • A condition or problem is considered serious
  • Surgery is one of the treatment options suggested
  • Numerous possible treatment options are available
  • After consulting with your doctor, you still have a number of unanswered questions
  • You are told by the doctor that a specific type of treatment cannot be used to treat your condition
  • You are told by the doctor that nothing or nothing more can be done to treat your condition
  • Your condition returns after treatment
  • A cause for your symptoms is not found, but the symptoms continue
  • You feel that there is something wrong with your diagnosis or suggested treatment plan

Is It Too Late?

What if you begin receiving treatment and then decide that you would like to get a second opinion? Is it too late? It is best to seek a second opinion soon after a condition or problem is diagnosed. However, it is never too late, even after treatment—with the exception of surgery—has begun.

Why Should You Bother With a Second Opinion?

Conditions that may require second opinions are usually complicated to understand and highly stressful for patients and their loved ones. When seeking a second opinion, you should find a doctor who specializes in the condition. There may be a number of benefits to getting a second opinion, including:

  • Having a better understanding of your condition
  • Getting your questions answered
  • Removing any doubts
  • Helping you to weigh the benefits and risks of the recommended treatment options
  • Helping you to make an informed, educated decision as to what treatment is best for you
  • Because medicine is not an exact science and many conditions can mimic the symptoms of other conditions, diagnosis can be difficult. As a result, getting a second opinion can help confirm the original diagnosis.

How Do You Get a Referral?

In many cases, seeking a second opinion is not only warranted, but necessary.

You should ask your doctor directly for a referral. In the interest of getting you the best possible treatment, all of the doctors at Richmond Surgical will welcome this request. Like many patients, you may feel uncomfortable or like you're "going behind your doctor's back," but rest assured, this is both a normal and common part of the treatment process. The bottom line is that if the circumstances warrant a second opinion - you should get one.

How Do You Find a Doctor on Your Own?

While we hope you never feel stranded on your journey to treat a challenging disease, if you need to find a doctor on your own, you can try:

  • Talking to another trusted doctor who may be able to recommend a specialist
  • Calling local hospitals, medical centers, or medical schools and asking for a referral to a specialist who works at or in connection with that facility
  • Calling your health insurance company for a list of specialists who are covered by your plan

In addition, before making an appointment, check the doctor's background and training. Websites like the American Medical Association and the American Board of Medical Specialties provide searchable databases of doctors who have met certain standards.

Will You Have to Pay for a Second Opinion?

The cost of a second opinion depends on your health insurance plan and the doctor whom you want to see. Before scheduling an appointment for a second opinion, check with your insurer to see if they cover second opinions, and if so, what restrictions are in place. Some health plans require a second opinion and will pay for it in full. Others will pay for it if you seek a second opinion from a specialist within their health care or insurance network. If you are in a position where you have to pay out-of-pocket for a second opinion, the cost will vary depending on which specialist you see and whether tests need to be done. Our team at Richmond Surgical is happy to help you navigate through this process.

Will More Tests Be Done?

This depends on your condition. In some cases, the doctor will want to conduct an independent exam and may order additional tests. Or, the doctor will be able to use the results that have already been collected to evaluate your condition, verify or disagree with the original diagnosis, and suggest a treatment plan for you. You should make arrangements to hand deliver test results and a copy of your medical record to the doctor before your appointment, so they can be as prepared as possible to discuss your condition.

From Whom Do You Get Treatment?

This depends on you and the type of health insurance you have. If you would like to, you may be able to get treatment from the doctor who gave you a second opinion. Or, the specialist can guide the primary care physician on the treatment.


Meet the team you can trust with your care.

Richard Carter, MD, FACS

Richard Carter, MD, FACS, received his undergraduate degree in Chemistry from the University of Virginia in 1996. He received a Master’s degree in Pharmacology and also completed his medical training at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Medical College of Virginia. After medical school, Dr. Carter stayed on to complete his residency in General Surgery at VCU Medical Center. His areas of surgical focus include Breast Care, General and Endocrine Surgery, Laparoscopic and daVinci Robotic Surgery, and Complex Wound Care. He was voted a "Top Doc" by his peers in Richmond Magazine in 2016.

Clifford L. Deal, III, MD, FACS

Clifford Deal, III, MD, FACS, received his undergraduate degree from Washington and Lee University and completed his medical degree and general surgery residency at VCU Medical Center. He is board-certified in General Surgery and is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Dr. Deal received the Outstanding Resident Physician Leader Award from Richmond Academy of Medicine and the Young Star Award from the Medical Society of Virginia, on both of whose Boards of Directors he serves. Dr. Deal has also served as Chief of Surgery at Henrico Doctors’ Hospital and been voted one of Richmond's "Top Docs" by his peers in Richmond Magazine multiple times.

Debra Hutchins, MD, FACS

Debra Hutchins, MD, FACS, graduated from Texas A&M University, Baylor College of Medicine, and completed her residency in General Surgery at the University of Colorado. She practices breast surgery, thyroid and parathyroid surgery, in addition to routine laparoscopic, general and melanoma surgery. Dr. Hutchins is Board-Certified in General Surgery and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Prior to moving to Richmond, Dr. Hutchins practiced for eight years in Northern Virginia, where she was voted a “Top Doc” in Washingtonian Magazine.

Susan M. Uhle, RN, MSN, CNP

Susan Uhle, RN, MSN, CNP, attended Virginia Commonwealth University and Catholic University for both undergraduate and graduate nursing degrees. She holds a Master of Science in psychiatric and mental health nursing, as well as a post-masters Nurse Practitioner Certification. She practiced in both inpatient and outpatient settings treating anxiety, depression, and focusing on emotional responses to illness and loss before joining Richmond Surgical. Within the group, Susan focuses her practice on management of high-risk individuals, as well as benign and malignant diseases of the breast, and genetic counseling.