Connecticut Fertility Center Fined for Embryo Mistake

June 28, 2010

A noted Connecticut fertility center has been reprimanded and fined by state regulators after it accidentally transferred a patient’s embryos to another woman with the same last name.

The Center for Advanced Reproductive Services at the University of Connecticut Health Center signed a consent order last week agreeing to pay a $3,000 fine, but did not admit wrongdoing.

The patient who received the embryos was informed of the error within an hour of the transfer procedure and decided to take the “morning-after” pill to prevent the pregnancy, according to state records.

The Hartford Courant first reported the fine and reprimand in its Saturday editions.

The incident occurred last April at the center when a lab technician failed to follow proper procedures for identifying vials containing embryos and pulled the wrong ones from frozen storage, according to the state Department of Public Health.

Officials from the center said in a written statement that the incident was the first of its kind in the facility’s 24-year history. They said that while such errors are rare, the center realizes they are “important and emotionally difficult for patients and center alike.”

“Although we deeply regret that this incident occurred, we have made every attempt to manage it in an honest and empathetic way,” the statement said.

State records say the lab technician only checked the last name on the container with the embryos, not the medical record number and last four digits of the Social Security number as required.

She discovered the error the next day, but the embryos already had been transferred to the wrong patient. The woman who owned the embryos had not been in treatment since 2006, but had continued to store them at the center and was also informed of the error.

The lab worker has been permanently reassigned outside the in-vitro fertilization lab.

As part of the consent order, the fertility center agreed to have a consultant review the center’s laboratory policies and procedures.

It also is required to make sure that employees receive training on policies and procedures on securing frozen embryos and verifying their ownership, and must establish a way to evaluate how those policies are being followed.

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