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Top Ten Tips for Avoiding Medical Mistakes, Errors, and Mix Ups in Infertility Treatment

Lab specimens
  1. Is your doctor a member of the American Medical Association and board certified in an area of specialty that relates to infertility.
  2. Is the embryology lab accredited by either the College of American Pathologists (CAP)  or the Joint Commission, a voluntary accreditation program for hospitals and other health care organizations?   You can find this information by asking the clinic and it is also on the Center for Disease Control statistics table for each clinic.
  3. Is the clinic a member of the Society of Assisted Reproductive Technology? Membership is voluntary and SART has very limited enforcement authority, but membership is at least an indication that the clinic will follow the SART guidelines for practice.  You can find this information by asking the clinic and it is also on the Center for Disease Control statistics table for each clinic.
  4. Check the Center for Disease Control statistics on the clinic to see not only their pregnancy rate, but also their live birth rate, and multiple birth rate.  Triplet and more pregnancies are another form of IVF mistake.
  5. Ask the clinic about their labeling protocol for sperm, eggs, and embryos?  (They should use at least two, and preferably more, unique identifiers such as bar-coding, color-coding, name, number, etc.)
  6. Ask the clinic what safeguards are used to make sure that the correct eggs, sperm and embryos are used for each procedure?  (For example, more than one person doing the identification of both the embryo or gamete and the patient, multiple times for comparing patients identification with the gamete or embryo, handing off sperm sample to the person in the lab who will be processing it rather than to a secretary or assistant, etc.)
  7. Check to see if there have been any complaints or disciplinary actions against your doctor. You have a couple of options:
    • Search “medical board” and the state name in your favorite search engine to find the Medical Board for your state.
    • Use a commercial service, such as HealthGrades to provide a report on your doctor.
  8. Ask the clinic if a nurse is available to work with you individually if needed to make certain you understand how to administer the medication?  Not all mistakes in infertility treatment are by the clinic itself.  Infertility medications can be confusing to administer.
  9. Does the clinic have a specific policy of disclosing all mistakes or errors to a patient?
  10. During your procedure, ask questions.  It’s OK to appear paranoid.  Have you double checked to make sure these are my embryos?  May I see the storage vial for the sperm before or after insemination?
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