Article Text

Download PDFPDF
External second opinions: building trust between health professionals and families


In medicine, external second opinions are frequently sought to inform decisions around a patient’s proposed course of treatment. However, they are also sought in more challenging circumstances such as when disagreement arises between the healthcare team and the family, or during complex end-of-life discussions in critically ill children. When done well, external second opinions can help build trust and reduce conflict. However, when done poorly they may antagonise relationships and thwart attempts to bring about consensus. While principles of good medical practice should always be followed, the actual second opinion process itself remains essentially unregulated in all its forms. In this review, we set out what a standardised and transparent second opinion process should look like and recommend key recommendations for healthcare Trusts, Commissioners and professional bodies to support good practice.

  • Paediatrics
  • Intensive Care Units, Paediatric

Data availability statement

Data sharing not applicable as no datasets generated and/or analysed for this study.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.