After learning that your child has a serious medical condition, you may want to seek a second opinion.

It takes time to fully comprehend the weight of a CHD diagnosis, and parents often have more questions after the initial consultation. In addition to following up with your first physician, getting a second opinion from another physician can help address your questions or concerns about the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment options for your child.

Every physician should understand how important your child’s care is to you, and support your search for information. It’s important for you to feel confident that you did everything you could to get the best care for your child.

It is your right to get a second opinion. The decision to get a second opinion does not need to be based on whether you trust your first physician. Even if you like them and feel comfortable with them, you may still want a second opinion because your priority is to understand your child’s medical condition.

Why Get a second opinion?

Get Clarity

You may understand the diagnosis and treatment plan better because another physician is able to explain it in a different way that makes the situation more clear to you.

Learn About Other Options

You may find more treatment choices through another physician or medical institution.

Discover a Misdiagnosis

It is rare, but you may discover a wrong first diagnosis that changes the treatment plan. Most of the time the diagnosis is unchanged, but that may help you feel more certain that the first physician did not make a mistake.

Gain Confidence

You may feel better prepared to make decisions after discussing your options and personal preferences with more than one physician. Hearing that multiple physicians agree on your child’s diagnosis and treatment plan may give you more confidence in your child’s care.

How to Seek a second opinion

  • 1. Talk with your first physician

    Tell your first physician that because the diagnosis and treatment will significantly impact life for you and your child, you would like to confirm the findings with another physician.

  • 2. Ask for recommendations

    Your first physician should be able to give you the names of two or three other specialists at a different medical practice. Friends and relatives may also be a good source of recommendations for you.

  • 3. Check with your insurance

    Do this before a second opinion appointment. It is your responsibility to talk with your insurance and clarify what expenses are and are not covered for a second opinion.

  • 4. Schedule an appointment

    When you call the second physician’s office, explain your situation and let them know who referred you. Be ready to answer questions about your insurance coverage. The second office may want to get the images from the first fetal echocardiogram. If so, you may be asked to sign a form that gives the first physician permission to send the images to the second physician.

  • 5. Prepare for the appointment

    Make a list of questions you want to ask the second physician. Be sure to include parts of the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment options that you do not understand or want to learn more about.

  • 6. Go to the appointment

    The second physician will review information from the first physician before your appointment. They will also either review the first physician’s images or repeat the fetal echocardiogram. Then they will talk with you and discuss everything like the first physician did. Have your list of questions ready to ask the second physician. If you need to, take notes or record the conversation on your phone so you can listen again.

Getting a Second Opinion

Just knowing that you have done your due dilligence is really valuable.

Austin, CHD Parent

PARENT TIPThe Internet Is NOT a second opinion

Sometimes parents find information on the internet that seems different from what their physician told them. It’s important to talk with your physician about this because they can address your concerns in the context of your child’s condition. Often the cases that you read about on the internet are not the same as your child’s condition, so the experiences may be very different from what you can expect.

The internet gives you access to a lot of information, but it should not hold the same value as advice from a medical professional. Instead, use the internet to research fetal cardiologists, fetal cardiology programs, or pediatric cardiology/heart centers in your area. Discuss your findings with your physician. Ask if they can give you additional information, or recommendations for support if you need them.


It is normal to get a second opinion – especially when dealing with a major medical condition. Many parents feel guilty or worry that seeking another opinion will upset their first physician, or show a lack of trust. While getting a second opinion may be new for you, for physicians it is a common part of their work. Your physician wants you to feel comfortable in partnership with them and feel good about your care choices.

No. It’s a personal decision to get a second opinion. Many parents do not get a second opinion after the first diagnosis, while other parents may get an opinion from more than two physicians.

It’s a good idea to let your physician know you are planning to speak with someone else and to keep them involved in the process. The second physician’s office will contact them for information anyway. Asking your physician for recommendations is not required, but they can be a great resource to help you find other specialists.

Most physicians will not help you make a second opinion appointment. However, your first physician may be able to provide useful information to the second physician. They may also be able to send previous scans and echocardiograms to the second physician if your insurance does not cover them a second time.

Here are some things to consider when you are deciding who to see for a second opinion:

  • The physician’s area of expertise and experience.
  • If the physician is in-network or out-of-network with your health insurance plan.
  • The physician’s location. You can decide if you want to seek a second opinion from another physician at the same medical institution or at a different institution, and how far away from home you are willing to travel.
  • The physician’s availability. You may need to contact several physicians before you find one who can schedule an appointment within your timeframe.
  • The cost of travel and transportation.

That’s okay. You are not required to get a second opinion from a specialist that your first physician recommends.

After your visit with the second physician, they usually call the first physician to tell them what their results were. They can also let the first physician know if you will be going back to them for care, or if you decided to switch your care to the second physician.

If that happens, you would seek a third opinion to more likely ensure a correct diagnosis.