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Focus on AAGL: Are We Listening to Our Patients?

I am sure we hear our patients, but are we always listening to what they are saying? I am afraid that often there may be a disconnect. This concern stems from a recent meeting with some dissatisfied patients.

Last November, the AAGL Board was notified that there would be a demonstration at the 42nd Annual meeting in Washington by an organized group of patients who had “a hysteroscopic occlusion sterilization” procedure, and felt they had or were still having problems attributable to the implants.

Members of the Board met with these patients to gain a better understanding of their concerns. There were several common themes that ran through their stories:

  1. When they shared their symptoms with the surgeon (who was usually the one who had inserted the device) they were told the problems were “not related” to the procedure. But it sounded like some of their surgeons were unaware that the symptoms they were experiencing could be related to the surgery. In several cases perforations had occurred, and patients were relieved by removal of the device.
  2. Their surgeons did not offer further evaluation to determine the cause of their complaint. At a minimum, requesting a second opinion from another qualified surgeon would have shown the patients their doctor was interested in helping them find an answer.
  3. “The surgeon ignored the request to remove the implants.” – Possibly the surgeon felt unprepared to perform this procedure, that it was unnecessary, or that agreeing to do this would make the surgeon liable in some fashion. But a referral to someone who could do this would have been of service to the patient.

To increase awareness of the possible complications arising from hysteroscopic sterilization, please click here to see an article summarizing a recent analysis of reported adverse effects.

We will be adding information to the AAGL patient awareness website,, advising patients to seek a specialist in Pelvic Pain when they have such symptoms. If you want to be identified when patients seek a physician, be sure your member profile lists you as having a practice focus in Pelvic Pain.

After listening to the stories these patients told, there appeared to be a premature judgment on the surgeon’s part that their symptoms were unrelated to their surgeries. I encourage you to learn more so if your patients express these symptoms, you have a frame of reference for understanding what may be causing the symptoms.

Listening is different from hearing. 

Franklin D. Loffer, M.D., FACOG, is the Medical Director of the AAGL and resides in Phoenix, Arizona. 

Filed under "Association News".

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