How was your experience with John Couvaras at IVF Phoenix?
I felt like Dr. Couvaras is an extremely intelligent person. However, that created a false sense of hope in the beginning because he talked so confidently, but the follow-up in treatments did not mirror that confidence. There was an overall lack of empathy and consideration for patient questions and emotions. I felt like he gave us the same speech every time, and he wasn't willing to answer questions. After years of trying to conceive, doing several rounds of medicated cycles, and having experienced several early miscarriages, I knew there was more going on than what he was willing to explore. He absolutely refused to do any testing on my husband, and just continued to medicate me. When we switched doctors we found out that my husband not only had extremely low morphology, but also has a balanced chromosomal translocation. As you can imagine, this was extremely frustrating and heartbreaking for us, and we felt that we had been completely misguided and mistreated, and it was an issue that could have been handled very differently.
What's one piece of advice would you give a prospective patient of John Couvaras at IVF Phoenix?
Do not allow him to make you feel like your questions are invalid. You as the patient, and as a woman, know your body. If you feel like you're not being heard, and like what he is telling you is not working, do not be afraid to get a second opinion. Nobody can advocate for your journey better than you can!
During treatment, were you treated like a number or a human with John Couvaras at IVF Phoenix?
The office was often chaotic and interactions with him felt like a rehearsed speech. After several months of treatments and talking with other patients, I realized that we were all being given the exact same protocol regardless of medical history, diagnosis, weight, age, etc. I felt like I wasn't heard and my questions were brushed off.
Describe the protocols John Couvaras used in your cycles at IVF Phoenix and their degree of success.
When we first met with him, he told us that his "typical" protocol was a "cocktail" of antivirals, anti-inflammatories, and the stimming medications. He prescribed Losartan, Heparin, Plaquenil (which is an anti-malarial drug), Femara, FSH, Acyclovir (antiviral), Lovastatin. We did home OPKs and came in for occasional ultrasounds to monitor follicles before doing hCG trigger and timed intercourse.
He then tried a protocol with FSH medication: I was instructed to do home ovulation tests, and to begin protocol which came on a sheet that looked like this: Omnitrope am (30), Heparin am/pm (32), Prednisone am (10), and FSH pm (150iu). Come in for U/S and bloodwork.
Instructions were vague at best, there were rarely nurses to answer questions, which left us feeling very confused and on our own to connect the dots. I was given a different nurse every time I called or went in for appointments, so there wasn't much continuity of care. One thing I was also very concerned about was the high doses of Heparin he prescribed to his patients. For several months of my treatments with him, I was giving myself Heparin injections 3 times a day. When I switched doctors, they ran all of the clotting factor labs and told me that there was no reason for me to have ever been on Heparin in the first place.
Describe your experience with the nursing staff.
Every time we came in for an appointment, we saw someone different. The communication within the office as well as over the phone or email was inconsistent, and I felt like I was constantly starting over and having to catch people up to where we were in our treatment. During one appointment, I went in for an ultrasound and then we were going to receive updated protocol. Not only did the ultrasound tech admit that she didn't know what she was looking for, but after the fact, she said she didn't know what doses of medication I was supposed to be on moving forward. Dr. Couvaras was "busy" and couldn't see us. She said she would give us what she thought was the right protocol sheet, and then we should call later and figure it out. Given the time sensitive nature of fertility drugs, I said I was willing to wait until someone could make sure we were taking the right medications. When another nurse finally came in, she gave us a completely different protocol sheet and told us the one the other nurse had given us was incorrect. Imagine if I would have gone home and not questioned, I don't think they would have corrected the problem.
Another instance was when they started diagnosing and prescribing medications, and I felt something was off, when I questioned it, they then realized they had the wrong chart!
That was very typical of how we felt about the communication, and was ultimately the reason we stopped pursuing treatment there.
Describe your experience with IVF Phoenix.
Infertility is very complex, sensitive, and stressful as it is, but having a clinic where we felt lost, unheard, and unimportant just added to the stress. The lack of communication and organization was a huge red flag for us. I could tell Dr. Couvaras is smart, but his protocols for every patient that walked in the door were the same, and he wasn't willing to listen to our concerns. I think he works with a very particular demographic of patients, and I know he has helped patients in the past. However, I feel like in the world of fertility and growing your family it is important to have a doctor who is willing to be a guide and work WITH you to understand the full picture rather than treating you like every other patient.
Describe the costs associated with your care under John Couvaras at IVF Phoenix.
In total we spent around $8,000 during our 9 months with Dr. Couvaras. That doesn't include all of the outsourced labs or prescriptions. We are really fortunate to have pretty good insurance that covered partial costs of office visits and prescriptions, however, most of what we did treatment wise through him wasn't fully covered.
What specific things went wrong at IVF Phoenix?
- Lost paperwork
- Failed to call with results
- Failed to order appropriate test
- Failed to inform you of changes in protocol
- Lost results
- Provided conflicting information
- Failed to convey critical information
- Failed to consider drug intolerance
- Scheduled the wrong procedure
Describe the specific things that went wrong at IVF Phoenix.
Overall, we just felt like the environment was chaotic and unorganized. We had several instances of receiving "wrong" information, prescriptions, and even the wrong patient paperwork from one nurse or staff member, and then when we questioned it, they changed the protocol or instructions. But if we wouldn't have caught it, I don't know if they would have. To avoid sounding repetitive, I would just say that the communication was disappointing, and we never really felt like we had a team or a doctor that was invested in helping us. The biggest thing was that after years of trying, medicated cycles, and early miscarriages, Dr. Couvaras still refused to test my husband. I've spoken with several people who have had similar experiences. One blood test with our next doctor confirmed that he had a balanced chromosomal translocation, and that our chances of ever conceiving/carrying to term/healthy pregnancy on our own were very slim. We are now in the process of IVF with PGS/PGD and additional protocols, and we feel that we could have been spared years of unnecessary heartache, stress, and financial strain if those tests would have been run when we asked for them.