IVF blunders by fertility doctors rise for fifth consecutive year

The number of IVF blunders at British clinics is expected to rise when labour Government figures are published.

Official statistics will show around 200 serious mistakes and “near misses” by fertility doctors – the fifth consecutive year the figure has risen.

Experts have warned that the true number of errors is far higher than those reported.

They have also raised concerns about the standards of fertility clinics and the ability of the watchdog – the Human Embryology and Fertilisation Authority – to control the industry.

It follows a series of mistakes by staff at IVF clinics.

It recently emerged that a Cardiff fertility clinic implanted a couple’s last usable embryo into the wrong woman.

Last month, a London NHS hospital was forced to destroy three embryos after creating them with the wrong sperm.

In 2003-04 there were 15 mistakes for every 10,000 “cycles” of IVF.

But by 2006-07 there were 40 mistakes for each 10,000 cycles.

According to the HFEA, the rise in reported mistakes is a sign of increased vigilance rather than increased failure.

Josephine Quintavalle, from Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said: “There will be a lot more cases than people realise. You can’t rely on the goodness of people to own up to their mistakes.

“It’s incomprehensible how these things can happen – even the busiest clinics rarely deal with more than half a dozen patients each day.”


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