Monday, April 14, 2014

What is the best way to communicate with the referring doctor?

A family physician recently referred a patient to me for IVF treatment. She was well educated and wanted to be an active participant in every aspect of the treatment procedure. I explained to her the details of the IVF treatment, and her treatment options.

At the end of the consultation, she requested me to explain the same information to her general practitioner , who had referred her to me.  Although I am not against communicating with other doctors, I don't do this too often. I believe when two doctors discuss medical treatment; the patient is often left out of the discussion. Patients are never a part of the medical discussion , and thus often end up having incomplete information regarding their own treatment.

I prefer an alternate way of explaining things to the referring doctor , by keeping the patient in the loop. I document the entire discussion that I have with the patient, and send the complete consultation note to the general practitioner with the patient. This method has many benefits. The referring doctor understands my plan of action regarding the patient’s infertility. He has full information about the IVF procedure and what I am planning to do .  More importantly, he can also check the patient's understanding, so he can ensure she has realistic expectations of my treatment. This helps me to audit my consultation, and ensures that I have done a good job with clearing the patient's doubts. At the same time the patient becomes the central part of the discussion. She is not left out from any information transfer. The referring doctor also gains confidence in the treatment offered at Malpani Infertility clinic. Since all the parties involved receive the same level of information , there is no room for misconceptions.

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