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The Internet....and other scary places...

Posted Oct 13 2009 10:06pm
The Internet is a wonderful tool. You can find answers to questions almost instantaneously. You can read articles from news sources a world away. You can watch videos of cats falling into fishtanks. What's not to like?

And yet, the Internet can allow faceless, nameless individuals to bully, confuse and intimidate vulnerable people who are just trying to get through this confusing maze of infertility treatments. The result is sometimes ugly and mean-spirited.

A few years ago several of our patients were posting to a bulletin board where the majority of patients were from another local clinic. Our patients were bullied and harassed in a really nasty way. One person accused one of my patients, who at that very moment was admitted to the High Risk Pregnancy Unit at Inova Fairfax Hospital, of being a liar who wasn't even pregnant! She actually had twins and pretty bad preterm labor.

So what to do? I think that one needs to consider Internet advice very carefully....including my own by the way! I often strongly urge patients that post to me to follow up with their RE. There is no substitute for speaking with your own doctor about your care. However, sometimes there can be some insight added by getting a fresh opinion. The knowledge that my replies may empower a patient to discuss difficult topics with their doctor is one reason that I continue to moderate Q&A sessions both on our own website and on the INCIID website.

Finally, I would advise patients to raise issues with their doctor....with their doctor. Seriously. The common practice of Anonymous posts complaining about issues really doesn't help at all, although it makes the one doing the posting feel better about venting. I have always encouraged patients to vent to me about issues that they may have with me or my practice. You cannot give good service without accurate feedback. A good physician always takes constructive criticism and makes adjustments. It is usually best to put these thoughts down on paper rather than rely upon memory when sitting in the office.

If your criticism is too personal, I can always have my Mother take care of the insensitive dolt who dared to knock her perfect (well near-perfect) son! Thanks Mom!
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