Fruit of the Womb
Fruit of the Womb

Groundrules for Comments and Communication

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As some of our regular readers already know, about 6 months ago I took on the role of interim Chair in our Department of OB/GYN. The added responsibilities have drastically cut into the time and energy I have had to devote to this site, although the readership has continued to increase from all over the world. While the members of the search committee have worked hard to find a Chair, they are just now narrowing the candidates down to the serious contenders and the process may take another six months. I think I can hold on that long!

Anyway, when I first began writing for Fruit of the Womb, I took the somewhat unique approach of offering to begin a dialog with any of you who were interested, despite the fact that this site is not set up in a way that that can be easily done. However, be that as it may, as many of you who have been the recipients of my responses are aware, I have tried to respond to virtually every comment that arrives in my mailbox. At times that can be almost overwhelming and sometimes limits the time I have to address new topics. For example, over the weekend, I had a few minutes to myself and sat down to write a new post, but when I opened up the mail, there were approximately 90 new comments from our readers. Six hours into composing my responses, I knew there would be no new posts that day for the general readership!

While responding to your many questions this weekend, I realized that I need to clarify once again the 'comments process' and also tell you what I will and will not do for you as my readers. Please respect my groundrules! Several readers left the same questions under different posts. As the process below details, I understand why that is a temptation, but please do not do that! It only slows me down. Several other readers asked that I communicate directly with them via their personal email addresses – sorry but I cannot do that either. Recently, a couple of you have tracked me down to my workplace, called, and requested to talk with me directly – that is an absolute no-no! Not fair to my staff, my patients, or to me! Occasionally, I need a few minutes during the day to run to the bathroom. Anyway, here is the way things work when you write a comment:

1) You write and submit a comment.

2) Someone (not me) at Healthline reviews the comment and decides if it 'acceptable' to be posted on the site. Mind you, it does not have to be well-written, have good spelling, or even be flattering; it probably does need to be relatively devoid of overt obscenities!

3) After the comment passes initial screening, it gets posted in the 'Comments' section under the post to which it was originally submitted. Therefore, expect a delay from the time you write the comment until the time it actually appears. If this is over a weekend or a holiday, it could be several days. It is your responsibility to remember to which post you submitted the original comment so that you can check to find my response.

4) Only after your comment is screened, and simultaneous to its being posted, the comment gets sent to my email box.

5) Only then do I have the opportunity to respond to your comment. I will usually do so somewhere beneath where your comment appears in the post, but sometimes will incorporate it into an entirely new post if I think it may be of interest and provide worthwhile information for a good number of other readers. If I do the latter, I will usually leave a note under your comment to let you know where to look for the detailed responses to your questions. It may take me a week or longer to respond, so if you have an ‘urgent’ situation, this is not the way to get a quick solution to your questions.

6) I try to respond to as many comments as possible, but there are some for which I have no response.

7) The drawbacks to this system are the built-in delays, the occasional 'missed' comments, either posted to the site without my knowledge, or sent to me without having been posted to the site, and most importantly, I never know (unless you write back) whether or not you have actually found your way back to the initial post and seen my response!

When I do respond, please be aware of the limitations of my answers. I will make an honest attempt to provide unbiased information, presenting the various opinions on “both sides of the fence,” reserving the right in the end to tell you where I stand on the issue and why, but understand, this is not a peer review journal! I can provide some thoughts, some information, some clarification of something you do not understand, some questions you might ask your providers, and maybe even a correct solution (given enough information) to your particular problem, but I cannot possibly understand your entire situation and I certainly CANNOT replace your own doctors in providing all the answers for your care. As wonderful as the internet is, it does not take the place of the face-to-face and hands-on attention of a physician who knows you well. So, don’t be afraid to ask them your questions, the same ones you are asking me! If they tell you something and you do not understand, then ask them to explain it a way that you do. Don’t ever leave your doctor’s office with big questions lingering in your heads, unless of course your doctor tells you up front that “I don’t know myself at this time.”

To all of you, thanks for being such loyal readers and for sticking by me during these tumultuous times!
Dr T
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About the Author

Dr. Trofatter is an expert on maternal-fetal medicine.

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