||The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (May 2011)|
A second opinion is a visit to a physician other than the one a patient has previously been seeing in order to get a differing point-of-view. Second opinions may be sought by a patient under the following circumstances:
- Physician recommends surgery.
- Physician diagnoses patient with serious illness (such as cancer) that patient does not believe they have.
- Physician recommends a treatment for the patient other than what the patient believes is necessary.
- When physician recommends elective surgery, it may be required by the insurance plan. In other cases, insurance will not pay for a second opinion.
- Patient believes they have a condition that physician fails to diagnose. In some cases, the physician may be the one to recommend the second opinion.
- The physician himself/herself recommends a second opinion.
Second opinions online 
Some patients will seek a second opinion online. This is a service offered by some clinics. Doing so enables patients to take advantage of the wealth of medical information found on the internet, and to avoid traveling to visit the clinic in person. But the face-to-face visit with the physician is lost, and not all medical insurance plans will cover the cost.