Fixing a communication breakdown

Good communication between members of the IVF team (including you) is crucial to ensure a smooth journey through the IVF process, whether the treatment ultimately is successful or not. The IVF team can't always help a couple to have a baby, but team members can and should make sure that the couple are always treated in a compassionate, respectful and sensitive way.

However, the relationship between patients and doctors/other healthcare professionals can be pretty uneven, because patients are at the mercy of those who treat them and have to rely on the staff members' good intentions and professional expertise. Occasionally communication breaks down and you're caught in the middle. If that happens, don't suffer in silence.

When you experience problems with your IVF clinic you may not want to voice your complaints because you don't want to get a 'black dot' against your name or get a reputation for being 'difficult'. Think of IVF just like any other service you buy. If you stay at a hotel and the towels are dirty and the breakfast coffee is cold, wouldn't you complain to hotel management about the poor service? And wouldn't you complain to the mechanic if your car still wasn't working after you paid a lot of money to have it fixed? Similarly, if you're not happy with the care you receive when you have IVF, complain to the clinic.

Sometimes, you may have problems with one particular staff member. Try these options:

1 If you feel that the 'chemistry' between you and one of the staff clashes and you just know that you're not on the same wavelength, don't put up with the situation. Make the point nicely but firmly to the person with whom you clash that you want someone else to look after you.

1 When you experience difficulties in the way a staff member treats you or communicates with you, talking about the problem with a counsellor can help. Counsellors are expert at understanding how people relate to each other and you can trust them to help you deal with any difficulties you may have with clinic staff.

Putting pen to paper and making a formal written complaint is a sure way of drawing attention to a problem that may exist in a clinic. Try to be factual about what you see as the problem and offer some constructive advice about how you think it can be fixed. This can help the managers of the clinic to improve the standard of care and make life on IVF more bearable for you and your fellow patients.

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