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A woman who sought help from a prominent Connecticut fertility center last year received embryos, but they belonged to another woman with the same last name.
A lab technician only checked the last name on the container with the embryos and pulled the wrong ones from frozen storage, according to the state Department of Public Health. Procedure is to check the medical record number and last four digits of the Social Security number.
That patient who received the embryos was informed of the error within an hour and decided to take the “morning after” pill to prevent the pregnancy, according to state records.
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.
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.”
“Thousands of babies have been born via The Center’s efforts without issue - and more than three million babies have been born through IVF world wide - and mix ups remain exceedingly rare. Nevertheless, however uncommon they may be, each one is important and emotionally difficult for patients and centers alike,” the statement said.
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.
“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.
It also is required to ensure 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.
“With the help of a nationally-recognized laboratory consultant, we have completed a comprehensive review of our already rigorous laboratory procedures to validate their effectiveness and elevate our already high standard of care. In addition, additional steps and checks have been implemented to make certain the breach of established protocol that led to the incident can never happen again,” the center said.