Thursday, October 29, 2015

Why Do IVF Patients Shirk from Asking Their Doctor Questions?

While I was consulting with one of my patients, I wanted additional information about her previous IVF cycle and asked her- “Did you ask your doctor why he selected that particular dose of HMG injection for your super ovulation?” She seemed visibly puzzled and said “How can I question my doctor? Isn’t that rude? Won’t he get offended if I ask him questions? I don’t want to upset him by challenging his authority.”

She went on to say that since she doesn’t understand any of these medical terms, she felt it would be out of bounds to question her doctor. And even if he did answer her question, she wouldn’t be any more enlightened, as it would be nothing more than medical jargon.  “ He is the expert after all, and who am I to cross- question him ? “

Different Times Call For a Different Approach

In my opinion, this isn’t much more than a carry-forward from the good ol’ days- when family doctors were revered and trusted completely to make the right decisions for their patients. At that point of time, there was no Internet and no easy access to information and doctors were the only ones who had access to the medical books and journals that held credible information. Even if patients did try to do their own research, they wouldn’t really have met with much success.

Myopic Approach

However, in this day and age, this attitude is nothing less than archaic. Most people don’t even have a family physician and just end up going to a specialist based on which part of their anatomy is acting up. The problem is that most specialists are very myopic in their approach to treating patients.

They rarely consider the fact that the patient’s problem might have its roots in an organ system different from the one they specialize in.  They have a very disjointed approach to treating their patient and don’t really understand what the latter’s preferences are.

Why Doctors Get Indignant, Offensive and Defensive

The even more important fact is that now patients have easy access to vast resources of credible information via the Internet and many are able to have an intelligent discussion with their doctor. These well-informed patients tend to keep doctors on their toes and consequently are also the ones that doctors may end up respecting. But not all doctors appreciate being questioned.

The minute they feel their patient is overstepping the line (which the doctors themselves have drawn), they make every effort to put the patients in their place. Others will just dismiss websites and say that they are full of garbage and that any online information is unreliable. At the other end of the scale are the doctors who tend to become offensive and will simply tell the patient to look for another doctor if they feel they can’t trust him.

What Really Matters

In my opinion, doctors who get defensive the minute they are questioned aren’t really good ones. It’s normal for patients to have a lot of questions when they are sick, and it’s the doctor’s job to ensure that their patient’s curiosity is satiated and that all their fears are allayed. A doctor, who is unwilling or unable to do this, is simply not doing a good job. 

For their part, what patients must keep in mind is that they should do their homework and ask intelligent questions. Good doctors encourage questions ; better doctors help you to ask better ones; and the best ones will pre-empt them by answering their patient’s FAQs on their website. This will help you form an effective partnership that will help you get the kind of treatment you want.

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1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:37 PM

    Hi doctor!... We went through an ivf cycle this month and we have a confirmed pregnancy. I am 5 weeks pregnant now and have been taking 6 Progynova 2mg tablets daily for a month now. Wanted to know from you if Progynova can be taken post pregnancy as the pack leaflet and some sites advise against taking this during pregnancy as it could lead to birth defects


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