Simply put, in vitro fertilisation (IVF) is one of the several techniques available to help women with fertility problems have a baby. During IVF, an egg is removed from the woman’s ovaries, fertilised with sperm in a lab, and returned to the woman’s or a surrogate’s body to carry through to birth. This procedure is common for couples struggling to conceive naturally or suffering from fertility issues.

Fertility laws and laws around IVF can be complex and exceptions apply. For example, under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authorisation (HFEA) Act 1990, the number of embryos allowed to be transferred for IVF treatment is limited to two per patient, and three if the patient is over 40 years of age.

Sex selection is also prohibited, except in circumstances it’s needed to prevent the genetic transmission of sex-linked diseases. And while embryo freezing is permissible, it is limited to a timeframe of 10 years.

But IVF procedures are made further complicated when a medical practitioner fails to fulfil their duty of care and/or demonstrates clinical negligence, which may in some cases result in physical, emotional, and financial harm.

While the UK has some of the most advanced medical systems and processes in the world, and IVF negligence is very unlikely, mistakes can happen. A report by IMT International summarises a number of cases of IVF errors over the last decade. In one case, a US couple discovered the husband was not the father of their six-year old child when she started developing features which resembled another race.

While shocking, the report helps us to understand how and why mistakes happen, and to work to improve countermeasures in the future.

Potential IVF and fertility negligence claims can include:

  • Loss, destruction, or mix-up of the eggs or sperm
  • Implanting the wrong embryos into the wrong patient
  • Failing to screen the sperm donor properly
  • The use of faulty/inappropriate equipment, which can impact IVF success
  • Delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis of ectopic pregnancies
  • Surgical negligence
  • Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) which causes ovaries to swell

When it comes to IVF and fertility negligence, it’s important first of all that negligence is proven (liability). Then, a direct link between the medical professional’s negligence, and the physical or emotional harm suffered (causation) must be shown.

Due to the sensitive nature of IVF and fertility treatments, it’s crucial to seek legal advice and support from a specialist clinical negligence solicitor who can assess your situation and help make a strong case to claim.

If you feel you’ve experienced IVF or fertility negligence from a medical professional or system, whether NHS or Private, feel free to reach out via phone or email. RHL Solicitors have no delays or waiting times in advising potential clients on their situation and will be quick to get you the support you deserve.