Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Why IVF patients need to grill IVF doctors

Your IVF medical records are your property and are worth their weight in gold

Recently, I met a patient who was quite unhappy with the treatment meted out to her by the IVF clinic where she had failed her second treatment cycle. Unfortunately, she did not have any medical records of the IVF treatment, because his doctor “kept all the records, and did not hand them over." This made me suspicious about the quality of the medical care she had received , and I told  her so. I then had to drill down and extract basic information from her, such as what meds were used for superovulation, what the doses were, how many eggs were retrieved, how many embryos were transferred, and what their quality was.

She looked progressively blank, and was totally clueless about the answers. I was even more dumb-founded than she was. Imagine going through an expensive and time consuming treatment such as IVF twice, and still not knowing the answers to such basic questions. She became defensive and challenged me, saying that knowing all this stuff was the doctor's job, and not hers. After all, she was just a patient, and had followed all her doctor's instructions - after all, isn't that what all good patients do ?

I think she did finally realize that her earlier doctor had not been frank and forthcoming, so I did not pursue the matter any further. However, it still amazes me that patients will insist on an invoice and a receipt when buying a TV set, but will not ask for a copy of their medical records!

Grill the doctor!

I believe it all boils down to the fact that doctors can be intimidating and patients think twice before asking them any questions. They are scared of their doctor and do not want to offend him. Their think that asking too many questions would annoy or irritate the doctor. They feel that their doctor may take offense because asking questions might suggest that the patient does not trust him.

I think it's important that patients should trust their doctors.However, this trust needs to be earned –it cannot just be given away! In the attempt to not rock the boat, not asking questions can actually end up creating lots of problems , especially when the cycle fails, as many will .

A patient who has asked questions and received satisfactory answers will be in a much better position to cope with this failure .  Good doctors understand this, and encourage questions. Clever doctors have developed a wide range of techniques to answer the hundreds of questions IVF patients have, without spending their precious face-to-face own time in doing so. Some of these techniques are: providing patient educational materials, along with FAQs on the internet; giving patients free IVF comic books, and brochures; and hiring nurses and assistants, whose primary job is to clarify patients’ doubts.

Not sure what's happening during your IVF cycle ? Need help in making sense of your IVF treatment ? Please send me your medical details by filling in the form at www.drmalpani.com/malpaniform.htm so that I can guide you better !

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