Families seek out in-vitro fertilization for a variety of reasons. Whether because they have struggled with fertility or because they want to give their child the best possible chance at a healthy life, these couples rely on fertility clinics to help their family grow. Unfortunately, clinics may make mistakes, and those mistakes could be devastating for those involved.
What kind of mistakes might a clinic make?
In-vitro fertilization is a complex process, and mistakes or mishandling at any stage of that process could significantly impact the families involved. Some of the many mistakes that could occur include:
- Contamination of reproductive materials
- Mislabeling of client materials
- Implantation of the wrong embryo
- Misdiagnosis of genetic conditions during testing
These errors can have a lifelong effect for the children and families involved. Mistakes or misdiagnoses during the testing process may incorrectly assess an embryo’s likelihood of a genetic condition. Errors made when implanting an embryo could leave families in the difficult situation of welcoming a child into their family only to discover that they are not that child’s biological parents. Mishandling of samples could result in embryos becoming unviable, leaving families without the child they hoped for.
How common are these mistakes?
Because the landscape for couples seeking fertility treatments is constantly changing, it can be difficult to determine how many families are impacted by these mistakes. One 2008 survey distressingly reported that as many as 1 in 5 fertility clinics were aware of inconsistencies between their initial genetic testing and later tests. Even more challenging, this industry is regulated differently depending on the state that each clinic operates in, and their labs are even explicitly exempt from some FDA oversight.
When mistakes happen, families may feel as though they face the emotional and financial struggle of these issues alone. However, legal options may be available to help families address the wrong they experienced and hold clinics accountable for the mishandling of this important process.