Tuesday, September 22, 2009

IVF mistakes - what is the extent of the problem in Singapore?

CNN reported recently of an IVF mistake occuring in an Ohio clinic in the US, where an embryo was wrongly implanted into a woman. This is not an isolated problem as such mistakes have been increasingly reported. Just last month, the BBC reported on a whistle blower embryologist Ms Pavlovic who highlighted neglected procedural safeguards at the Guys and St Thomas's hospitals. As she had detected the mistakes by accident, she queried if there had been other mistakes that have gone undetected and unreported.

We really don't know how many such errors have occurred in Singapore (see previous post). None have ever been reported to my knowledge, but this silence does not necessarily mean we are error free. Perhaps many have just not been detected.

But what can we do about it? For one thing, IVF clinics have to be more stringent in their procedural disciplines. How do embryos get labeled and tracked? Are we still depending on handwritten scribbled information of sample labels, or can we move on to electronic tagging as one major clinic in the UK has done. With IVF, even one error is one error too many.

As a footnote, I would welcome any reports or IVF errors in Singapore if you are aware of any such problems. Just drop me a note. You don't have to name names or identify clinics if you are not comfortable.

No comments: