Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Why aren't patients better informed about their own problems ?

I always cringe when I see how poorly informed patients are about their own medical problems. Even infertile couples who have been through an IVF cycle know very little about simple basic facts, such as how many eggs were collected; or how many embryo were formed; or what the quality of the embryos were.

Some patients take perverse pride in their ignorance. They feel that IVF is too technical or complex to understand- and don't even make the effort to do so. A common justification is - I could never make any sense of biology even in school, so all this goes " over my head". Others justify their stance by saying - A little knowledge can be dangerous and I don't want to become a half-baked doctor" !

Others believe that doing the IVF is the doctor's job - so why should they bother about all these medical minutiae ?

In some cases, it is the doctor who is to blame. Many doctors are very selective about releasing information; and many IVF clinics still refuse to give patients their medical records. ( This always make me wonder as to what they have to hide !)

Some very rich patients take the attitude - " I am paying to go to the best,so why should I bother about all this silly medical stuff. I have more important things to worry about !"

Unfortunately, ignorance is not bliss. Patients cannot afford to take a "hands off" approach. Biological systems are unpredicatable - and the outcome of any medical treatment will always be uncertain. Patients just cannot afford to leave everything upto God - or upto the doctor anymore !

The good news is that there is now a lot of information available on the internet for infertile couples, so even if your doctor is uncommunicative, you cannot use this as a pretext for remaining ignorant ! After all, it takes two to tango - and you cannot shirk off your responsibility by blaming your doctor anymore.

For example, our book, How to Have a Baby - A Guide for the Infertile Couple is now available online - free of charge. It is available in 4 different languages - and is also available in a comic book format and as a video !

Doing your homework does not mean trying to become a doctor - it just means you are trying to form a partnership with your doctor. You should trust your doctor - but you should also verify independently that he deserves your trust !

If you aren't well-informed, there's a real risk that an unscrupulous doctor may take advantage of your ignorance. If this happens, then all your confidence in the medical profession is lost - and you will never be able to trust another doctor again in your life. Rather than be passive and allow such a calamity to occur, you can use Information Therapy to immunise yourself against bad doctors.


  1. Nice words Dr. Malpani. Especially the last para. Most patients in India have a blind faith on Doctors and few, I really mean fewdoctors take undue advantage of this.
    Patients should be more carefull.And the doctors are more alert and responsible in treating a informed patient.

  2. More and More people are turning to IVF now days. There are some lovely and very considerate doctors out there like Dr Onwude, but equally others are not quite so kind.


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