22 August 2011
ByAppeared in BioNews 621
Mistakes in IVF treatment more than trebled in Britain during the last three years, according to figures from the UK's fertility regulator.
Some 564 errors, including losing embryos and sperm, occurred between April 2010 and March 2011, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) said. This compares to 182 incidents between April 2007 and March 2008.
The figures were released after a freedom of information request from Irwin Mitchell solicitors, which specialises in medical negligence cases.
'Although 564 incidents represent a small proportion of the 50,000 IVF cycles carried out in the UK each year, when things do go wrong it causes the most unimaginable heartache for those involved and it is vital that both the clinic in question and the IVF industry as a whole learn lessons for the future', said Guy Forster, a solicitor at Irwin Mitchell who has represented several couples whose IVF treatment failed due to clinical errors.
'When patients choose to undergo IVF treatment they have the right to know if their clinic has a poor record of incidents, in the same way that clinics are keen to promote their success rates', he said.
Gedis Grudzinskas, a consultant in infertility and gynaecology at London Bridge Hospital and Princess Grace Hospital, told the Daily Mail: 'The worry is that these mistakes are due to failings at fertility clinics, possibly caused by inadequate resources'.
An HFEA spokesperson told the Guardian newspaper: 'The HFEA openly encourages the reporting of incidents and continues to work closely with centres to improve quality. As a result, centres are continuing to respond positively to the opportunity to share lessons learned from incidents which have been reviewed and vigorously investigated.
'There has actually been a fall in the number of the most serious incidents. In the past year there were more than 50,000 cycles of IVF, which entails hundreds of thousands of laboratory procedures'.