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What You Should Know About IVF Mix-ups and Witnessing

What You Should Know About IVF Mix-ups and Witnessing

20:18 20th May 2017 | Medical Negligence

Fertility Challenges IVF Medical Procedure Healthy Baby IVF Mix-Ups Medical Institution Procedural Error General Negligence Witnessing Protocol Cross-Checking Overseeing Specialist Procedures Quality Management System Quality Austria IVF Clinics Prof. Zech

Most couples do not anticipate fertility challenges. It is something almost unimaginable that is only suspected after trying to conceive for a considerable period of time. However, with tests, at least answers can usually be provided and often successful treatment can be recommended.

IVF as a Beacon of Hope

IVF continues to deliver favourable results for couples who struggle to conceive, worldwide. It has become a beacon of hope for those who thought starting a family was no longer possible. In fact, to date it is estimated that far over 5 million babies have been born through IVF.

IVF Risks

As with any medical procedure, there are of course risks which include:


Birth defects 

Multiple births

Ectopic pregnancy

Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome

Egg-retrieval procedure complications

Premature delivery and low birth weight

Stress: Use of IVF can be financially, physically and emotionally draining

For many couples, the risks are worth the chance of having a healthy baby. They choose to commit to IVF treatment, emotionally and financially, hoping for favourable results.

The Other Scary Risks

Imagine for a moment, after everything a couple has been through (perhaps more than one IVF cycle), they find out that there has been a mix-up in the fertility clinic. The wrong sperm was used to fertilise the egg; the wrong egg was fertilised; the wrong embryo was implanted or even worse: a deliberate mix-up occurred. News like this can be earth-shattering to a couple, not to mention the reputation of the medical institution that allowed such a blunder or crime to occur.

On 26 December 2016, the Daily Mail UK reported that up to 26 Dutch women may have been fertilised by the wrong sperm cells. "For some of the 26 couples, frozen embryos are still available but the chance remains that they (too) have been fertilised by the sperm from a man other than the intended father," the Dutch Medical Institution said. How can this even happen one asks? In a statement, the UMC in Utrecht blamed an IVF "procedural error" between mid-April 2015 and mid-November 2016.

This is certainly not the only case. In 2012, a Singapore mother sued a clinic for alleged negligence after it mixed up her husband's sperm with that of a stranger. The baby, who was born in 2010, had markedly different skin tone and hair colour than was expected. The woman’s suspicions were not wrong. A paediatrician confirmed that it was scientifically impossible for the baby’s blood type to be B, as the woman’s and husband’s blood types were O and A.

One of the more alarming cases involves an Ottawa fertility doctor who admitted that he inseminated four women over a 21-year period with the wrong sperm. Even worse, it is alleged that he inseminated at least two women with his own sperm. He is facing a potential class-action lawsuit, but the damage is done.

Who is to Blame?

These cases, among other unacceptable occurrences, can be blamed on general negligence, inadequate processes that should be in place and (unbelievably enough) instruments that were not properly cleaned.

How Mistakes Can Be Prevented

At Bridge Clinic, we have best practice procedures in place to ensure that these terrible mistakes do not occur. With our witnessing programme, no procedure is ever performed in isolation. That is, there is always a witness present, overseeing specialist procedures. This cross-checking ensures that negligence does not occur.

Bridge Clinic was the very first fertility clinic in Nigeria to introduce a quality management system to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all our patients. Today we are still the only clinic in Nigeria to have such a system in place.

The Bridge Clinic operates under internationally monitored accreditation and our quality management system is certified and regulated by Quality Austria. This has also enabled us to work closely with and be affiliated to IVF Clinics Prof Zech, which is considered to be one of the most renowned IVF clinics in Europe. READ MORE HERE

Get in touch to discuss our witnessing programme and other procedures that are in place to ensure that mix-ups don’t occur during our fertility treatments.

Email | Call 01 631 0092

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