Expert Fertility Doctor Promotes Increasing Measures To Avoid IVF Mix-Ups

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Postpartum discovery of IVF errors can be devastating for parents and offspring alike. Infertility expert and author Dr. Mark P. Trolice of Fertility CARE: The IVF Center has implemented proactive measures toward preventing errors by adopting identification technology, eIVF Biometrics.

As physicians, we take an oath first of all to do no harm—and to make a mistake in embryo or egg or sperm identification is to do very grave harm indeed. In the fertility field, we see patients at a highly vulnerable point in their lives, and we become the custodians of their hopes.

In March of last year, a New York City woman gave birth to twins conceived in vitro after years of infertility challenges. After the birth, the couple were stunned to discover that the IVF clinic had implanted the wrong embryos: the twins were biologically related neither to the couple nor to each other. The parents have filed suit against the fertility clinic, as have the biological parents of one of the babies—victims of the same mix-up. (1) “A mistake like this is simply devastating,” says Dr. Mark P. Trolice, M.D., FACOG, FACS, FACE, Director of Fertility CARE: The IVF Center, and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine. “Instead of joy, it brings pain and chaos into the lives of both parents and children.”

To prevent such errors, says Dr. Trolice outlines in his recent publication (7) that it is incumbent on fertility practitioners to maintain the highest possible standards of care and accuracy, so as to avoid the kinds of situations reflected by these errors and the lawsuits that inspired them. His own practice, for example, is soon implementing technology for bar code identification of patients along with their egg, sperm, and embryos.

This degree of systems management, says Dr. Trolice, should become standard for the industry, noting that these errors, fortunately rare, are often attributed to human error but should not be considered inevitable. There are also egregious acts, committed by a Canadian fertility doctor whose license to practice was recently revoked. He was caught using the wrong sperm (including, in some cases, his own) in the assisted conceptions of more than 70 children. (2) He is now the subject of million-dollar lawsuits by two former patients. (3)

Meanwhile, the infertility field is expanding rapidly, as is investors’ interest in it. Research from Piper Sandler projects that the U.S. fertility market will be at $15.4 billion by 2023, up from about $7 billion in 2017. Last October, fertility benefits provider Progyny became one of the first startups in the industry to go public; since then its stock price has increased more than 150%.(4) In addition to market attention, the dramatic possibilities inherent in IVF mix-ups are being explored in popular culture, first in an Australian best-seller that served as the basis for a television series(5), and more recently in an American adaptation on the Fox network.(6)

Dr. Trolice, whose views on the subject are shaped not only by his professional standing but by his own ten-year history as an infertility patient, says, “As physicians, we take an oath first of all to do no harm—and to make a mistake in embryo or egg or sperm identification is to do very grave harm indeed. In the fertility field, we see patients at a highly vulnerable point in their lives, and we become the custodians of their hopes. We may not always be able to make things better for them, but we can—and we must—avoid committing the kind of errors that make things worse.”

About Fertility CARE: The IVF Center

Fertility CARE (Center of Assisted Reproduction and Endocrinology): The IVF Center provides patient-centered, evidence-based, and individually customized reproductive care in a comfortable and compassionate setting. This Central Florida IVF clinic, in the Orlando/Winter Park area, consistently earns 5-star patient ratings in online reviews. Established in 2003 by founder and director Dr. Mark P. Trolice, uniquely offers both male and female testing, evaluation, and treatment. Today, the practice encompasses the Center for Male Infertility, headed by a fellowship-trained male reproductive specialist; the Mind/Body Institute, overseen by a licensed clinical reproductive psychologist; and the IVF Laboratory of Central Florida, led by a Board-certified High-Complexity Laboratory Director. Fertility CARE: The IVF Center offers a comprehensive range of infertility tests and treatment options as well as genetic testing, egg freezing, embryo cryopreservation, and other services. For full details, visit http://TheIVFCenter.com.

About The Fertility Doctor's Guide to Overcoming Infertility: Discovering Your Reproductive Potential and Maximizing Your Odds of Having a Baby

The Fertility Doctors Guide to Overcoming Infertility: Discovering your Reproductive Potential and Maximizing Your Odds of Having a Baby is a non-fiction infertility book written by Mark P. Trolice, MD, FACOG, FACS, FACE; Director, Fertility CARE: The IVF Center Professor of Ob/Gyn at the UCF College of Medicine. This book is to be used as a companion guide through every step of an individual’s infertility journey—a guide that explains the most optimal time to conceive, advises the right time for an evaluation by a fertility specialist, recommends evidence-based diagnostic testing and treatment including IVF, and discusses alternative family building such as egg/sperm donation, surrogacy, and adoption. Buy the book on Amazon or visit Dr. Trolice via his professional website http://drmarktrolice.com

1.    Miller, Anna Medaris, “A couple is suing a fertility clinic after giving birth to two other couples’ babies. Here’s how that can happen,” Insider, July 10, 2019.
2.    Pfeffer, Amanda, “Disgraced fertility doctor’s clinic broke federal rules as far back as 1999, inspection results reveal,” CBC News, January 6, 2020.
3.    “Sperm mix-up charges raise concerns about fertility clinics,” CBC News, September 14, 2010.
4.    Kowitt, Beth, “Fertility Inc.: Inside the big business of babymaking,” FORTUNE, January 21, 2020.
5.    “IVF, swapped embryos and unimaginable heartbreak: Why The Mothers has made us question everything,” Australian Women’s Weekly, January 23, 2020.
6.    VanDerWerff, Emily Todd, “Fox’s Almost Family aims to build a quirky family dramedy around medical rape,” Vox, October 6, 2019.
7.    Fertility and Sterility. “IVF Errors: Is This Only the Tip of the Iceberg?” Fertility and Sterility Dialog, Fertility and Sterility, 6 Feb. 2020.

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