Transparency Troubles in IVF Treatment – Is your doctor hiding information from you?

Many IVF patients do their first IVF treatment cycle with lots of hopes. Especially during the first consultation, the doctor is very hopeful and optimistic, because he is in sell mode. You get to talk to the senior brand name doctor who tom-toms their high success rates and the fact they use the latest technology. You see photographs of happy babies all over the clinic, and you're sure that you're in the right hands.

The problem is that once you pay for your treatment, you then find that the reality is extremely different from what was sold to you. The doctor is badly organized, and there is no treatment plan at all. You don't know what is going to happen next, and everything is very ad hoc. You're told to come every single day for a blood test and scan, and you have no idea why these tests are being done. What’s even worse is that no one tells you what the results are, or what they mean. There is complete opacity and you are in the dark. What's even worse is you never get to see the same doctor twice, because there's always a different doctor on duty. And often you don't even get to see a doctor, but end up seeing an assistant or a junior doctor, or a nurse who's also completely clueless. The standard answer to all your questions is – We will have to talk to the senior doctor, so please wait. This means patients routinely end up spending two, three, and even four hours in the clinic, without knowing what's happening. And they're often made to run around from the lab to the clinic to the doctor in order to do their tests, so they can find out what the next steps are. And every time, they seem to get new advice, based on which doctor is on duty, as a result of which they're completely confused and they don't know whom to trust or what’s going to happen next.

However, now that they've paid their money, they're forced to continue going ahead with the treatment because they're pretty much stuck. And this is especially true for a lot of commercial chains which actually induce patients to sign up for three IVF cycles in advance by promising them a discount. And if patients aren’t happy, they don't refund any money, which means patients are coerced into doing treatment after the treatment cycle in the same clinic, even though they are unhappy.

And every time the next cycle fails, the doctor gives them a new story or advises them to do new tests – which aren’t included in the earlier package costs, and as a result of this up-selling and cross-selling, they end up spending far more than what they thought they were going to.

Their experience is so bad that they refuse to have any faith in any IVF doctor anymore, and it’s because of this attitude that IVF clinics have ruined their reputation. This is why it's very hard for ethical IVF clinics to survive in this environment. And the tragedy is that commercials will continue taking IVF patients for a ride, b Because they're out to maximize their profits, and don’t really care about patients.

Authored by : Dr Aniruddha Malpani, MD and reviewed by Dr Anjali Malpani.