When patients ask me for a second opinion after they have failed an IVF cycle in another clinic, I ask them for a copy of their medical records. Sometimes they say “ We don’t have a copy,” so my answer is, “ Fine, then ask the clinic for a copy of your treatment summary”. Then the answer is “But the clinic is refusing to give it. They say - it’s not our policy to provide these records, and we don’t do this”.
I find this frustrating, and I suggest, “ Write them a letter . Perhaps they’re ignoring your verbal requests, but will reply to a written request" . Then the response is - “We haven't get any reply”. Then I tell them, " You need to escalate. Mark a copy to the head of the clinic , and the CEO of the hospital. If you still don’t get a reply, then get a lawyer to write the letter on your behalf - I am sure a letter from a lawyer will not be ignored”.
I agree this is frustrating for patients . I cannot understand why a clinic will refuse to share medical records with the patient. This is part of a doctor’s job and the doctor’s not doing a favour to the patient by giving them their records. This is a legal duty which the doctor owes to the patient , and it’s the patient's legal right to get their records.
Doctors don’t understand the harm they do by refusing to be transparent and open by sharing records. This creates unnecessary suspicion in the patient’s mind , and a lot of grief as well. The patient will start doubting your integrity and your intentions. " What do you have to hide that you’re not willing to give me my records?”
Part of the problem is that doctors continue getting away with this behaviour, as a result of which this seems to have become the norm for many IVF clinics, but this is not acceptable or tolerable. And I think doctors need to start putting pressure on themselves and on their peers to make sure that records are provided routinely and proactively to all patients. This helps to increase trust and confidence.
What can the patient do ? Patients need to prevent these problems from occurring, so they need to ask a simple question before they sign up for IVF in the clinic. " Will you provide photos of my embryos ?" The standard answer from any good clinic is, “ Yes , we do this routinely". However, if they don’t , then this should be a red flag. Every medical record contains vital information and even if the cycle fails, this information can help the doctor to craft a better treatment plan for your next cycle . This is true, whether you go to the same clinic , or whether you go to another one.
Some doctors refuse to share medical records is because they want to keep their patients captive. They hope that by not releasing the record, the patient will not go to another clinic. This is extremely short sighted and while it may work in the short term , it causes long term damage, not only to that individual doctor, but to the reputation of the entire IVF fraternity . This is something which is going to cause all of us a lot of harm, if we allow some doctors to get away with this kind of behaviour.
I was very hopeful that once the ART Bill would get passed by the Parliament , a lot of this would get regulated and straightened out, but that doesn’t seem to be happening, unfortunately, because this poor Bill has been stuck in the Parliament now for the last seven years. In any case, as responsible doctors, we need to take action proactively, rather than wait for the government to regulate us.
Please send me your medical details by filling in the form at www.drmalpani.com/free-second-opinion so that I can guide you better !