Generally, people trust their health care providers to give them the care they need. However, medical mistakes do occur with some regularity, many of them rising to the level of actionable malpractice.

People often do not feel comfortable bringing up a request for a second opinion, afraid of offending their doctors. In some situations, asking for a second opinion can help you avoid a mistake that can have potentially severe repercussions for your health and even your life. You should trust your provider, but you should also trust your ability to recognize some common situations that may call for another doctor’s point of view.

Your doctor advises major surgery

Sometimes, you have no choice but to undergo major surgery immediately. However, other than in emergency situations, you may have other options. Major surgery can result in long and painful recovery times, even when it goes perfectly. If your doctor recommends such a procedure, you may want to consult another physician and see if other options can address your condition effectively.

You have a bad feeling

It can happen that you cannot quite put your finger on it, but something feels wrong about the diagnosis or proposed course of treatment. It may not be a good idea to try to talk yourself out of these feelings, as they can have a solid basis.

Lack of communication

If your doctor is not answering questions to your satisfaction, keeps interrupting you or clearly does not listen to the information you provide, he or she can lack the information needed to make a correct diagnosis and prescribe the right treatment. According to experts, communication plays a major role in providing quality care; a doctor’s failure in this regard can have major consequences for you as a patient.

Sometimes, you may find the second opinion you seek actually confirms your first doctor’s diagnosis or treatment recommendation. Do not think of this as a waste of time; you can now have more peace of mind knowing you thoroughly explored the options. On the other hand, consulting another physician can reveal previous mistakes or missing information.