Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Can you please interpret your IVF medical reports for me ?

When patients come to me with their medical files , the first thing I ask them to do is to interpret their medical lab test results and scans for me. Some of them find this extremely puzzling , and are not sure if I am joking or not. After all, isn’t it the doctor’s job to make sense of the medical test results ? What kind of doctor is this who doesn't even know what the test results ? Is he actually asking a patient for help with interpreting them ? Does this mean he's completely clueless ?

Some of them get defensive and ask plaintively –  I'm just a patient - how am I supposed to make sense of these ?

This is exactly the attitude which I want to change by asking this provocative question !

I believe patients should become experts on their illness. Sadly, patients seem to have very little confidence in their ability to be able to make sense of their medical treatment . I think this is a shame ! Patients are underestimating their ability to understand what is happening to them , and doctors need to empower them information so that they can make sense of what is happening to them - not just their medical test results , but also their treatment options .

I walk them through their test results ; and explain to them which ones are important , which ones are irrelevant and can happily be ignored . By doing this , I help them to get more confidence in themselves . This also increases their confidence in me, because they can see I am happy to be open and transparent, and am trying to share information with them .

For lots of patients this can be disconcerting . This is a sea change from the typical Indian doctor who plays with all his cards close to his chest – and whose standard answer to any question the patient asks is usually a patronizing – You do not to worry about this - I'm the doctor and I will do whatever is required .

For patients who are happy to let the doctor make all the decisions, our approach of trying to engage them in their medical care is discomfiting . We try to make sure that our patients are actively involved in their treatment . This is good for the patient, and it's also good for us , because a patient who knows what's happening will make sure the treatment plan is being carried out properly as planned.

The chance for errors is reduced; and patients have much more confidence in us , because they have realistic expectations of the IVF treatment process.

Need help in making sense of your reports ? Please send me your medical details by filling in the form at so I can guide you sensibly ?

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