When should I consider getting a second opinion?

  • In general, a patient with epilepsy usually is first cared for by a primary care doctor (general practitioner, internist, or pediatrician).
  • If seizures are not controlled, the patient should be referred to a neurologist.
  • If after further evaluation and treatment the seizures are still uncontrolled, the patient should be referred to an epileptologist.

What's the best way to obtain a second opinion?

  • To get a second opinion, it is probably best to ask your doctor for the name of a neurologist or epileptologist. You may also get a list of names from the local EF affiliate, the American Epilepsy Society (AES) at www.aesnet.org, or from a friend or relative.
  • It is important that care be coordinated. The referring or primary care doctor and the second doctor should communicate, and the primary doctor should send copies of your records to the second doctor.
  • You may wish to continue care with the second doctor, but usually the primary doctor remains in charge of the case.

How do I go about changing doctors?

Changing doctors may be awkward and uncomfortable. Ease this transition by doing the following:

  • Call the doctor's office and tell the secretary, office manager, nurse, or doctor that you are changing doctors.
  • Write a brief note asking that your records be forwarded to the new doctor or directly to you. The note can be very simple: "Please forward all of my medical records to Dr. — ," and give the new doctor's address.
  • You also need to fill out a release for medical information form from your doctor's office. You may need to fill out more than one. For example, your doctor may need one for his or her records to be sent. You probably will need to fill out one for the hospital too so they can send copies of tests, hospitalizations or other notes. Contact the Medical Records Department where you received care. 
  • It is helpful to call the new doctor's office before the appointment to make sure that the records have arrived.
  • Avoid burning bridges when you change doctors. You may turn out to like the original doctor better than the second one, or your original neurologist may be on-call if you are brought in for an emergency room visit.


Authored By: 
Steven C. Schachter, MD
Reviewed By: 
Patty Obsorne Shafer RN, MN
Sunday, July 28, 2013