Sunday, December 29, 2013

Why do IVF patients put up with so much rubbish ?

It always amazes me how badly some doctors treat their patients . What I find even more surprising is why patients put up with this kind of bad behavior from their doctors. IVF is an expensive treatment and patients are paying a lot of money in order to ensure that they get good quality medical care . The least they can expect is respectful treatment from their doctor. However, patients are often treated like cattle. They are made to wait for hours on end in order to get their lab results; get a scan done; or to see their doctor. I feel this is completely unacceptable .

There are some doctors who will pile up a huge number of patients every month, and do 50 IVF cycles in a period of 3 days. They take pride in these numbers , and proudly boast about how many IVF cycles they do every year. They treat patients as being widgets on an assembly line and think of themselves as running an efficient baby making factory !

Thus, these doctors will typically do embryo transfers for 5 patients in 10 minutes. They put all their patients in a single room , where they lie down with their legs up in the air , with lots of other women in exactly the same situation . There is absolutely no privacy – and a complete loss of dignity .The doctor then goes from patient to patient, depositing the embryos, one by one.  Husbands are not allowed – and God help the patient if the embryologist hands the wrong embryos to the doctor ! This is a set up for a disaster waiting to happen.

Other doctors do multiple consultations at one time . There are 3 patients crowding around the doctor’s desk, clamoring for his attention , while there are 4 more waiting for their turn. Imaging trying to discuss sexual problems in this kind of setting ! Not only is there no privacy, the patient is never not sure whether the doctor remembers their name – or is mixing up their prescriptions with someone else’s. Just because a doctor is busy does not mean that they have the right to ill-treat their patients !

Many clinics treat their patients like widgets. They are asked to do their scans in one location ; the blood tests in a second ; and meet the doctor in a third. Egg collections are done in a completely different facility – and embryo transfers may be done somewhere else ! Patients are herded together in groups – and most do not have clue what is happening to them because they have not been told what to expect. This kind of treatment makes my blood boil. It’s very hard to provide good care if resources are stretched and the doctor has a long line of patients to process. He is likely to be rushed and make mistakes. Even worse, this attitude infects the other staff members as well, who start becoming uncaring as well.

I can understand why doctors do this . It makes a lot of sense for them to batch their patients and treat them together in groups . They can be much more efficient, and this kind of processing helps them to maximize their profits. What I cannot understand is why patients put up with this kind of behavior . After all, these are educated, affluential patients – not the illiterate poor , who don’t dare ask questions in a government hospital setting which provides them with free care.

So why do patients tolerate this kind of behavior. Many patients are completely dependent on the doctor. They are very reluctant to complain or speak up, because they are worried that if the doctor is upset with them, he will not look after them well. This is especially true in small towns, where there is only one doctor, which is why he can get away with bullying his patients, Secondly , some patients feel that their doctor is the only act in town. Since he is the “best”, they treat the doctor as God. They are scared to question him or get a second opinion , because of the amount of time and energy this will consume.

Thirdly, often patients don't know any better , because all the doctors they have seen have treated them in exactly the same shabby fashion . They expect that this is the standard of behavior .

The final issue is the problem of herd mentality . Patients feel that if 50 other patients are willing to put up with this kind of behavior, then this must be par for the course, so they dare not complain ! In fact, they perversely come to the conclusion that the very fact that the clinic is so crowded and that there are so many patients clamoring for the doctor’s attention is a signal that this doctor must be the best. After all, putting up with rudeness and bad behaviour can be a small price to pay if this maximize your chances of having  a baby. They are willing to accept an uncaring attitude , as long as the technical quality of care is good !

This is flawed thinking . There is no shortage of good doctors in India. Patients should demand respectful treatment from their doctors . If they refuse to put up with bad behavior from their
doctors , doctors would automatically be forced to improve ! It’s only because patients put up with this kind of rubbish that doctors continue to get away with it. Patients need to learn to vote with their feet.

At Malpani Infertility Clinic , we pride ourselves on providing respectful attention to all our patients. We are very hands-on and focussed ; and since we are a boutique clinic, we are good at pampering our patients !

Do you feel your IVF doctor does not treat you with respect ? Please send me your medical details by filling in the form at so that I can guide you better !

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