Thursday, September 02, 2010
How some IVF clinics lie to their patients
Many IVF clinics are desperate to get patients. This is especially true for new clinics which have just been started in small towns and cities. Though they have not been able to achieve a single pregnancy, they do their best to attract patients, and often lie in order to do so.
Unfortunately, many patients are not sophisticated enough to be able to separate fact from fiction, and will often get taken for a ride.
1. " Our pregnancy rates are 45%". This is the commonest lie. Most clinics do not bother to keep data or report their personal pregnancy rates. Most will just "borrow" the highest success rates of the best IVF clinics, and claim to have the same results. This is a lie - but there's no way the patient can find out the truth !
2. " Our doctors come from Bombay. " Some IVF clinics pride themselves on the fact that the IVF procedures in their clinic are performed by travelling experts from Bombay. While this does allow them to tap into expertise which is not available locally, the results of IVF treatment are compromised for many patients with this model. This is especially true for older women; those with endometriosis; those with PCOD; and those who have failed earlier IVF cycles. This is because IVF treatment does not just consist of doing an egg collection and embryo transfer. Superovulating the patient and monitoring the superovulation is a key part of the IVF treatment. This needs to be tailored for each patient, and while using a "one size fits all" approach is fine for young women, this will reduce the success rate for challenging patients, who need individualised protocols.
3. " Don't go to Bombay as you need 15 days bed rest after the embryo transfer". For most diseases, doctors are happy to refer patients to the doctor who has the best track record and the most expertise. This is true for patients with cancer, for example, who are referred to regional oncology centers such as Tata Memorial Hospital. However, IVF doctors do not follow this basic medical principle. They will usually scare patients from going to the best clinics ( the most established busy clinics, which have the most experience and expertise).
Some standard scare techniques are:
a. " You will not be able to rest after the embryo transfer. If you do not rest, the cycle will fail ! " This is rubbish. Once the embryos have been transferred into the uterus, they are safe and cannot "fall out " . This is simple commonsense ! IVF embryos , once they have reached the uterus, do not "remember" that they have spent 3 days in an IVF incubator - they are just like all other "in vivo" embryos which are formed after intercourse in the bedroom. All our patients travel back to their home town 3 days after the transfer.
b. " What will you do if there are complications ?" The truth is that complications are very rare in a good IVF clinic. In fact, the risk of complications is far greater when the IVF is done by an inexperienced doctor.
c. " Bombay clinics are very expensive". This is not true either. The basic costs are very similar all across India. In fact, we are much more cost effective, because of our high success rates ! The cost should not be calculated on a "per cycle" basis, but a "per baby" basis
d. " The cycle failed because your egg/ sperm/uterus was bad". While these doctors make lots of tall promises both before and during the IVF cycle , when the cycle fails ( as it often does !), they then "blame" the patient's eggs or sperm or uterus and start suggesting additional options, such as the use of donor eggs or donor sperm or surrogacy. Desperate patients will often agree with these incorrect recommendations, because they do not know any better ! Rather than change the eggs/sperm or the uterus, they would be much better off changing the clinic !
The major damage these clinics do is that they cause patients to lose confidence in themselves - and in IVF treatment as well . Thus, when the cycle fails, many patients get fed up and frustrated. They lose heart and stop treatment altogether ! This is tragic, because if they had gone to a good IVF clinic, they would have been able to have their own baby !
The rule is simple - do your homework ! Selecting the right IVF clinic is a critically important decision - make sure you are well informed , because your choice of clinic is likely to affect your chances of having a baby and how happy you are the rest of your life. Taking treatment at a world-class clinic will maximise your chances of success and give you peace of mind you did your best. Treatment can be expensive, but a baby is priceless.