Fertility Center Errors: What Patients Need to Know

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Two separate incidents of equipment failures at local fertility clinics has shed light on the larger (but not generally publicized) issue of fertility center errors. These incidents have led to thousands of destroyed and unusable frozen embryos and eggs, shattering the hopes of many people wanting to start families.  In many cases, these events could have been avoided had the equipment been properly maintained and checked by the operators and/or doctors in charge of such facilities.

Currently, there are very few laws governing fertility centers and even fewer laws regarding the disclosure of adverse events to families.  Accordingly, what is needed to prevent these terrible outcomes are stricter and more consistent regulations.

What is Cryopreservation?

Cryopreservation is the process of freezing a woman’s eggs or a fertilized embryo. It has become a lucrative industry in the last decade. Time Magazine reports that since 2009 the number of women choosing to freeze their eggs has increased from 900 to about 76,000 per year.

Cryopreservation is very expensive. The cost to retrieve and freeze eggs ranges anywhere from $7,000 to $15,000 per cycle, but some patients have to go through multiple cycles in order to get viable eggs or viable embryos for preservation.  After that phase, there is also an annual storage fee which can range anywhere from $350 to $1,500 per year.  Once the time comes to have the eggs fertilized, called in vitro fertilization, or the embryos implanted in the uterus, the cost for this procedure can be as high as $5,000.

While malfunctions at these clinics may be uncommon, for those who had planned to start a family and who may have spent thousands of dollars during the process, the emotional turmoil and heartbreak in the event of a fertility clinic error can be devastating.  If you suspect a problem you experienced at a fertility clinic could have been avoided, you should immediately speak with a medical malpractice attorney.

The Laws Might Not Protect You Completely

There are few laws outlining the precautions that must be taken by fertility clinics throughout the cryopreservation process. Also, there are few laws detailing what recourse – if any – a patient has when a problem arises at a fertility clinic.  Because this area of practice is so new, this area is still unchartered territory.  A medical malpractice attorney may therefore be necessary to fight for you if something goes wrong.

Patients should know their options. When choosing a fertility clinic, ask to see the clinic’s policies and procedures and make sure they are a member of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, which sets appropriate guidelines and uniform recommended standards for these facilities throughout the United States.

Additionally, find out if the clinic complies with the standards of the Fertility Clinic Success Rate and Certification Act of 1992. For additional information, you can also visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website for success rates on a specific facility.

Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you have suffered problems with a fertility clinic, you should consult with a medical malpractice lawyer. For a medical malpractice attorney in the Los Angeles area, call The Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq. at (310) 289-2600 for a free initial consultation.

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