Published: Tue, March 13, 2018
Medicine | By Earnest Bishop

Glitch At Fertility Clinic Exposes Vulnerabilities In System For Women Freezing Eggs

Glitch At Fertility Clinic Exposes Vulnerabilities In System For Women Freezing Eggs

The technology helps to create families that previously had little hope.

"Our clients are absolutely devastated, as I'm sure countless families across OH are, in the wake of this catastrophic failure by University Hospitals", said Mark DiCello of DiCello Levitt & Casey, attorney for the plaintiffs.

In a class action lawsuit, they allege the hospital failed "to maintain, inspect, monitor, and/or test their liquid nitrogen storage tanks".

"We don't know the reasons why yet, but we do know that the temperature that was measured at a portion of the tank was higher than our acceptable limits", DePompei said.

Last week, an OH hospital said more than 2,000 frozen eggs and embryos may have been damaged due to a refrigerator malfunction. UH has not clarified if it was a mechanical or human error at this point.

"We are still in the process of looking at what actually happened to the monitoring and temperature sensors".

Some of the samples date to the 1980s, said Dr. James Liu, head of the hospital's obstetrics and gynecology department. Herbert says the embryos were later transferred to a new tank. Those letters should have been received Thursday.

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On March 10, Pacific Fertility staff began notifying more than 400 patients who had all of their eggs or embryos stored in the affected tank and roughly 100 more patients who had about half of their eggs in the affected storage tank.

The facility has set up a call center for patients to arrange and appointment or calls to speak with their physicians. The number is 216-286-9740.

The center can be reached at 216-286-9740; it is open Monday through Friday 7 a.m.to 8 p.m. and on Saturday 8 a.m to 1 p.m.

In order to check viability, the eggs and embryos have to be thawed and then implanted.

The clinic has reported the incident to the College of American Pathologists, which regulates labs, and the overseers of California's tissue banks, Herbert said. The FDA, Center for Medicaid Services (CMS) and CDC are responsible for CLIA, which regulates lab testing and requires state certification. The complaint lists the UH system, UH Ahuja Medical Center, UH Medical Group and UH Cleveland Medical Center as defendants. At that time, all of the equipment and technology was new.

How numerous eggs and embryos are no longer viable. Herbert said, for patients still eager to use their eggs or embryos to try to become pregnant, the physicians and other staff will first thaw them to find out whether they are viable. We are committed to getting answers and working with patients individually to address their concerns.

"We just want to hold UH accountable, that they should make this right", said UH patient Kate Plants.

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