VeterinarianWhat is the difference between a second opinion and a referral?

Generally, a second opinion involves getting another veterinarian’s opinion on your pet’s diagnosis, while a referral is the transfer of a patient from a family veterinarian to veterinary specialist. The referral, in effect, also serves as a second opinion.

What are the reasons for a second opinion or referral?

Often a second opinion is simply for peace of mind. Having your pet diagnosed with an uncommon or serious illness can cause a great deal of anxiety, and you will want to be absolutely sure that the diagnosis is correct. Many people turn to the internet, but Dr Google isn’t always right and you may find yourself becoming more anxious at the results of your internet searches.

While you may feel uncomfortable seeking out another veterinarian, rest assured that your veterinarian only wants what’s best for your pet, and will not be offended by your desire to get a second opinion. You do not need your veterinarian’s permission to do this, but you will need your pet’s medical record for the doctor giving the second opinion. This is usually easily accomplished by a phone call to the front desk to ask for records to be faxed.

You’ll want to make sure the second opinion is with another vet that you trust, so ask friends and family for suggestions. You can also ask your family vet for suggestions, if you feel comfortable doing that. Other than the transfer of your pet’s records, there is generally no further communication between your primary veterinarian and your second opinion veterinarian.

A referral, on the other hand, involves your veterinarian passing along the management of your pet’s care to a specialty veterinarian, usually for one of two reasons:

1. Your pet requires advanced diagnostic or surgical equipment not available at your veterinarian’s facility.

2. Your pet requires advanced expertise in a given condition or specialty or advanced experience with a particular species.

In this case, the specialist will keep your veterinarian updated as to your pet’s condition and progress.

When you are concerned about the health of your pet, no question should go unanswered. Be sure to find a family veterinarian that you trust, and that you feel comfortable communicating with. A second opinion or referral should not hamper that relationship.

When you are referred to the Las Vegas Veterinary Specialty Center, it is the goal of both your veterinarian and our specialists that once your pet’s condition has been properly treated, you easily resume wellness care with your family veterinarian.