Thursday, August 09, 2012

Doctors deserve the patients they get !

As a doctor I try to do my best for all my patients. I treat them with compassion and with respect , and try to make sure that they are well informed about their treatment options , so that they have peace of mind that they've received the best possible medical care, no matter what the outcome. Unfortunately , I have realized the hard way that I cannot keep all my patients happy all the time. No matter how hard I try, there will always be some patients ( hopefully a very small percentage !) who are unhappy and dissatisfied with me . It's not that the failure of an IVF cycle itself which causes patient dissatisfaction . If it were that simple , it would be much easier for me to come to terms with the fact that this is something which is beyond my capability , and is just a result of the fact that medical science has its own limitations.

The problem is that every patient carries a certain amount of emotional baggage , and has a certain personality , and it's not possible to judge this during the consultation , or even on the second visit. This means that while there will be lots of patients who appreciate our approach of being transparent and open; and engaging with them and explaining to them exactly what's happening , conversely there will be other patients who will feel that it not the patient's job to get involved with the medical details and niceties.

They believe that it’s the doctor’s duty to provide whatever medical care the patient needs, and ensure that the IVF treatment succeeds. I wish life was so simple – I wouldn’t need to talk to patients at
all ! I would just tell them –take your baby and pay your money ! These patients have very unrealistic expectations, and who do not like our approach . Of course , if the cycle succeeds, they have no complaints at all , but if the cycle fails , they often believe that it’s the doctor wasn't hundred percent sure about what he was doing , and need to keep on asking us what to do ! These are the patients who want authoritative paternalistic doctors – which is not my style at all.

I just have to accept that this is part of life – that it’s not possible for every doctor to keep every patient happy . The secret lies is in patient selection and doctor selection. Just like it's important for patients to select the doctor they are comfortable and happy with, I think it's equally important for doctors to select patients who are on the same page as they are, so that both of them remain happy with the medical treatment.

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