Cardiac Surgeons Answer Your Questions About Second Opinions


If you or someone you love are facing a serious medical issue such as cardiac surgery, you might have questions about second opinions. Here, our cardiac surgeons answer your questions and discuss how St. Elizabeth has unique access for patients to Mayo Clinic eConsults, with no cost or travel, because St. Elizabeth is a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network.

When should a patient get a second opinion?

Dr. James Locher: There are no set guidelines for when people should seek a second opinion. It’s a huge undertaking to have heart surgery, and I truly want every patient to feel comfortable with the decisions that they make.

What’s the process for getting a second opinion?

Dr. George Christensen: Requesting a second opinion can happen at any time during the consultation. Patients can simply request one.

Dr. Victor Schmelzer: One option can be to have the second opinion done internally, meaning that we could ask other colleagues and associates who are specialists in the field. A second option can be an opinion obtained by some other physician of the patient’s choosing. Or a third option available to St. Elizabeth patients is to access eConsults through the Mayo Clinic Care Network.

How do eConsults with the Mayo Clinic work?

Dr. Locher: Because we’re in the Mayo Clinic network, we have direct access to the Mayo Clinic heart surgeons. They’ve made themselves available for second opinion consults. All patients have to do is just ask for a Mayo Clinic e-consult, and then we can almost immediately contact the Mayo Clinic heart surgeon. We provide them with all the medical information about that patient. They will look at all that just as if it’s their own patient, and then very quickly give us a report back about what their recommendations are. So, it’s like having virtual partners here with us that are Mayo Clinic surgeons.

Dr. Schmelzer: There is no charge to the patient whatsoever, and the patient doesn’t have to travel to the Mayo Clinic.

How do I request a second opinion if I’m not already a St. Elizabeth patient?

Dr. Christensen: Just simply call our office. We expedite these appointments so that patients are not waiting too long for a decision on how they would like to be treated.

Why choose St. Elizabeth for cardiac care?

Dr. Locher: My partners are amazing surgeons, and when you get one opinion from us, you almost always really get multiple opinions because we work as a team. You might see one of us, but what you don’t realize is you’ve got multiple heart surgery brains thinking about what’s the best thing to do and when to do it.

To request a second opinion from a St. Elizabeth Cardiac Surgeon, including a Mayo Clinic eConsult if desired, call (859) 301-9010 for an expedited appointment.