Tuesday, October 05, 2010

But I am not a doctor , doctor !

I will often ask my patients for their inputs during their IVF treatment cycle. I feel patients should be well-informed and I see my role as a technical facilitator . My goal is to empower my patients so that they can make the right decisions for themselves and not have to depend upon me.

When I ask my patients to decide, many of them look at me as as I was crazy. Most Indian patients are used to dealing with doctors who have a much more paternalistic style, and most are used to being told what to do by their doctor.

A common response to my question , What would you like to do ? is - But I am not a doctor ! This has 2 sub-texts - You are the doctor, which means you are the expert, so you should decide. Secondly, because I am not a doctor, I do not understand much about IVF, so do not feel I can make the right decision.

While it's fine to ask your doctor for his opinion, I feel patients underestimate their ability to understand IVF and make the right medical decisions for themselves. IVF is not rocket science - and a good doctor will help you understand what is happening , so you feel more capable of deciding for yourself ! I tell patients that I am the doctor; that the buck stops with me; and that I will not let them make a wrong decision - but that when there are choices ( and there always are choices in elective treatments like IVF), it's best that they decide !

Some patients are happy to be treated as equal partners - while others will find a more authoritarian doctor , so they do not have to do any thinking for themselves !

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