The Reality About IVF Mix-Ups

The Reality About IVF Mix-Ups

by / Wednesday, 14 August 2019 / Published in Medical Malpractice
Female scientist looking through microscope

Struggling to conceive a much-wanted child is an absolutely heartbreaking experience for millions of people every year. While advances in medical technology has helped make the dream of parenthood a reality for many people, medical errors can leave people feeling absolutely devastated.

Recently, a case of an IVF lab mix-up in California made headlines when two boys were born to an Asian couple, who quickly realized that neither of the babies appeared to be Asian. Testing later revealed that neither child was genetically related to each other. In reality, the children had been conceived with embryos from two other patients who had been undergoing IVF at the same facility and the embryos had been mixed up in the lab.

Each of the babies was later given to their respective genetic parents, but the mix-up deeply affected each of the three couples involved in the lab mix-up. For one couple, they gone through pregnancy and spent weeks caring for the babies, only to end up losing both babies in the end. The other two couples likely experienced a mix of emotions, but the joy of finally having a baby being diminished by feeling like they had missed out on priceless experiences. The genetic mother of one of the babies involved stated, “All of a sudden, by brain went to, ‘I didn’t get to bond with my baby. I wasn’t able to carry him. I wasn’t able to hold him. I wasn’t able to feel him inside of me.’”

Approximately 1% to 2% of all births in the United States each year are the result of IVF and other similar technologies. But while IVF has become a more common medical treatment in the United States, and it’s believed that these sorts of mistakes are rare, it’s difficult to know exactly how common IVF mix-ups really are. In most cases, genetic testing is only done in cases such as this one, when babies appear to be a different race than their parents, so it’s possible that many IVF mix-ups simply go unnoticed.

There’s also the fact that even though the American Society for Reproductive Medicine has guidelines regarding how samples should be labeled and how errors should be reported, there aren’t any government agencies that actually enforce them. While hospitals are required to report errors like wrong-patient and wrong-site surgery, there is less oversight for reproductive clinics. However, one study from 2008 found that more than 1 in 5 fertility clinics in the United States had misdiagnosed, mishandled, or mislabeled samples.

Regardless of exactly how common IVF mix-ups are, the sad reality is that this recent case wasn’t the first time one has happened and it won’t be the last. Lab mistakes are a very common cause of medical malpractice and if you’ve been the victim of a lab mix-up, it’s very important to speak to a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. Malpractice cases are very complex and it’s important to have someone on your side who truly understands the law and can help you move forward with your claim. At Goodwin & Scieszka, you’ll be able to speak to a Michigan medical malpractice lawyer who can help answer your questions. Contact us today to get started.