Why you should keep a copy of your IVF medical records
Posted Nov 18 2008 12:16am
I am always dismayed by how little most infertile patients actually understand about their own IVF treatment. Even patients who have been through many IVF cycles ( "IVF veterans") are often poorly informed about basic medical details, such as : the dose of HMG injections used for superovulation; the number of follicles grown ; the endometrial thickness and texture; and the grade of the embryos. Many look quite blank when I ask them these questions; while others get defensive. The commonest excuse they provide for their ignorance is that - "The doctor did not tell me"; or "The clinic keeps all the medical records in their file". While it is true that some doctors are not very forthcoming with information , I feel it's also the patient's responsibility to collate this information about their own treatment. It's not a good idea to leave everything upto the doctor ! Taking an intelligent interest in your own treatment can help you get better medical care ! Most IVF clinics will keep records of your medical treatment which they update regularly. It's a good idea for you to also keep a personal diary so you can keep track of what's happening to you. It's not smart to rely on your memory - you are bound to forget or get confused. It's stressful enough going through an IVF cycle - don't tax your memory as well. A diary can help you record your feelings; make a note of the questions you need to ask your doctor; and serve as a record for the future. You can use our IVF patient record as a model. After your IVF cycle, you must ask the doctor for a treatment summary. This is your legal right - and it is the doctor's duty to give this to you if you ask for it. However, if you don't ask for it, you won't get it - it takes two to tango ! Many doctors will try to give you the brush-off or the run-around when you ask for your records. They want to hold on to them - because they feel this will allow them to hold on to you as a patient ! Don't get bullied by a doctor who says that the records belong to the clinic. They don't - they are your medical records and the clinic has a legal obligation to give you a copy when you ask for it. They can charge a fee for copying the records, which you should be willing to pay. Don't underestimate your ability to decipher your medical record ( though I agree that making sense of your doctor's scrawl can be extremely challenging !) . You don't need to get worried if you can't understand some of the medical terms - a little bit of homework will pay rich dividends. A careful analysis may also reveal some surprises ( for example, some information which your doctor did not share with you or "forgot " to tell you). These treatment details will also help you if you need to change doctors; or get a second opinion.
It's always best to make this request for your medical records in writing, so that the request is documented. This will ensure that the clinic will take your request seriously, and not brush it off ! Generally, when you ask for your medical record, your request should include: The date of your request. Your name, address, telephone number or other contact information. Your medical record number, if any Date(s) of treatment or service (such as dates you were in the hospital). If they don't give you a copy, something is fishy, and you may need to complain to the hospital authorities; or the Medical Council. If you don't stand up for your rights, no one else will ! Not only is a copy of your IVF treatment an important part of your medical history; an intelligent analysis of your treatment cycle will help you plan your future course of action - and also give you peace of mind you did your best.