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UK IVF errors treble in three years

22 August 2011

By Dr Vivienne Raper

Appeared 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'.

Daily Mail | 13 August 2011
Top News | 14 August 2011
Guardian (Press Association) | 13 August 2011
Healthcare Global | 15 August 2011
IVF treatment error rate 'trebles'
Virgin Media | 13 August 2011
Scotsman | 14 August 2011


28 November 2011 - by Julianna Photopoulos 
Another blunder at IVF Wales in Cardiff destroyed a batch of 'exceptional' eggs only hours after they were donated, leaving a couple devastated...
21 November 2011 - by Dr Gabrielle Samuel 
There was a six percent rise last year in the number of fertility treatments carried out in the UK, according to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA)...

25 July 2011 - by Ayesha Ahmad 
A fertility clinic in Hong Kong has admitted to implanting two embryos into the wrong woman earlier this month. The embryos, belonging to another patient at the clinic, were removed and discarded by the clinic upon discovery of the mistake. The women affected are said to have received counseling and compensation from the clinic....
04 May 2010 - by Seil Collins 
The number of reported mistakes at IVF centres in England and Wales has doubled over one year, rising from 182 in 2007/08 to 334 in 2008/09. Incidents range from technical failures to serious mix-ups. Cases where embryos have been lost, implanted into the wrong patient, or fertilised with the wrong sperm have all been reported....
02 November 2009 - by Ailsa Stevens 
A mistake at one of London's top fertility clinics has resulted in more than 11 women being treated with genetically abnormal sperm, according to an exposé published in the Independent on Sunday newspaper this week. If passed on, the chromosomal abnormality carried by the sperm could have triggered miscarriages or resulted in the birth of a child with serious chromosomal disorder....
26 March 2007 - by MacKenna Roberts 
New York State Supreme Court Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam has allowed Thomas and Nancy Andrews to pursue unspecified damages for parts of their claim that in 2004, the fertility clinic Medical Services for Reproductive Medicine negligently used an unknown donor's sperm to fertilise Mrs Andrews's eggs, denying Mr...

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