Expatriate employee receives conflicting advice - how a second medical opinion drastically changed treatment path

Second Medical Opinion In Hong Kong

When Healix learned of a client’s employee planning to undergo a total hip replacement at the advice of foreign doctors, following a short period of mild discomfort, we urged her to postpone. While our assistance was not welcomed at first (perceived to be motivated by cost containment), she later proved extremely grateful for our intervention, seeking a second medical opinion in her home country which agreed with our assessment. She subsequently abandoned her plans for surgery which could have had harmful long-term effects.

The whole story: An Australian expatriate in Hong Kong in her early forties presented to a local orthopaedic surgeon with a brief history of relatively mild discomfort in the hip. After a plain x-ray, an MRI scan and an outpatient review, the orthopaedic surgeon advised the patient to have a total hip arthroplasty and the operation was scheduled to take place within a week.

The Healix medical team were concerned that the proposed surgery seemed disproportionate for the length and severity of the patient’s symptoms. It is unusual for young patients to be offered this type of surgery unless all other options have been explored and the patient’s symptoms remain intractable – in this case more conservative options appeared not to have been considered at all.

We contacted the patient and outlined our concerns, offering a second medical opinion. Our approach was not welcomed by the patient who believed that we were motivated only by a desire to save money. Nevertheless, the patient agreed to give us a detailed account of her symptoms and sent us copies of her imaging investigations. These were reviewed by the Healix medical team in consultation with the Healix Consultant Panel orthopaedic surgeon. The outcome was that we strongly advised the patient to delay the planned surgery and seek a second opinion. The patient reluctantly agreed to do so and in fact was reviewed by an orthopaedic surgeon in Sydney during a period of home leave. The Australian orthopaedic surgeon told the patient that to have a total hip arthroplasty at her age, for mild symptoms, was likely to be enormously harmful.

The patient heeded this advice and abandoned her plan to have surgery. She subsequently contacted us and expressed gratitude for our intervention and expert advice.

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