Fertility Clinics in 2013-2015 HFEA Adverse Incidents Report

Lots of useful information brought together all in one place

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is the UK’s independent regulator overseeing the use of gametes and embryos in fertility treatment and research. The HFEA has released its report on adverse incidents that took place in fertility clinics over the 2013 calendar year.

Download our adverse incidents report for 2014 and for 2015.

HFEA incidents-report-2013 imahe
If you’re exploring fertility treatment, the HFEA is the first place to go for reliable information.

The HFEA report shows that a total of 516 incidents were reported, which is equivalent to less than one percent of the approximately 60,000 cycles of treatment that take place annually. Overall numbers of incidents have remained steady.

There were four ‘A grade’ incidents; 208 ‘B grade’ incidents; 262 ‘C grade’ incidents and 42 cases that were either later classified as near misses or not incidents. This means that ‘C grade’ incidents, the least severe category, represent the majority of all reported cases .

While recognising that the whole IVF sector should continue to report and learn from all incidents so that they can provide better, safer patient care, HFEA Chair, Sally Cheshire, has reiterated her specific call for clinics to reduce the number of ‘C grade’ incidents.

We remain committed to a reporting system that highlights what can go wrong and, most importantly, how clinics can improve care and safety for patients. After the last report, we told clinics that more must be done in particular to reduce the numbers of avoidable grade C incidents. While it is too early to see the full impact of that message, this 2013 report offers a great opportunity to firmly re-state that clinics must make a concerted effort to eradicate ‘C grade’ incidents.

Sending a letter to the wrong address, for example, may seem a small mistake at first glance, but the effect on the patient can be considerable. Clinics must ensure that their administrative and process errors become increasingly rare occurrences.”

‘A grade’ incidents are classified as the most severe. Four were reported in 2013:

  • A storage tank failed, which affected donor sperm samples belonging to 250 patients.
  • An equipment failure meant that embryos for seven patients did not progress as expected and therefore were not suitable for embryo transfer.
  • An affected embryo was replaced in error during a Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) .
  • A baby was born with a condition following the transfer of a frozen PGD embryo.
  • ‘B grade’ incidents are the middle category. Most clinical ‘B grade’ incidents relate to incidences of severe or critical OHSS, while non-clinical ‘B grade’ incidents include issues around consent and breach of confidentiality.

Director of Compliance and Information, Nick Jones, urged people to see this as an opportunity to share lessons learned, rather than for naming and shaming:

While the report honours our commitment to transparency, and making the best use of our world-leading data, it is not intended to be used for the naming and shaming of particular clinics. UK clinic staff are highly professional, and are often almost as devastated as the patient when a mistake occurs.

The best means of reducing mistakes is to create a culture of shared best practice and improvement. Clinics must do better, and this report can help them do so.”

The HFEA expects clinics to use this report in conjunction with the earlier 2010-2012 report, and to reflect upon their own practices. The HFEA will be sending a copy of this report to each licensed clinic.

Fertility Treatment in 2013-2016 HFEA Trends and Figures Report

Lots of useful information brought together all in one place

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is the UK’s independent regulator overseeing the use of gametes and embryos in fertility treatment and research. The HFEA has released new figures and trends on fertility treatment in 2013.

Download the fertility trends report for 2014 – 2016.

HFEA 2013 fertility trends report image
If you’re exploring fertility treatment, the HFEA is the first place to go for reliable information.

Report Overview:

  • More treatment cycles than ever before; success rates remain constant
  • Multiple birth rate falls again
  • Number of women over 45 using donor eggs outnumbers those using their own
  • Number of IVF cycles using donated eggs and donated sperm more than doubles in five years
  • Number of same-sex female couples receiving treatment increases
  • New figures on fertility treatment released today by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) reveal a continuing rise in the overall number of IVF cycles in the UK, with more undertaken in 2013 than ever before.

The report, “Fertility treatment 2013: trends and figures“, contains key statistics on fertility trends in the UK. It covers treatment cycles and outcomes for treatments started in 2012 and 2013 and how these coincide with short and long term trends. It is the fourth of its kind to be published by the HFEA.

In 2013, 49,636 women had a total of 64,600 cycles of IVF and 2,379 women had a total of 4,611 cycles of donor insemination (DI), representing an increase in both categories from the previous year. Overall, success rates have remained constant at around 25%.

Women over 40 represent the minority of all patients treated, with women aged over 45 accounting for just 2.% of all treatments. More than two-thirds of women undergoing treatment are aged 37 and under, while the average age for treatment remains static at 35. The report also shows that a majority of women over 45 are using donor eggs rather than their own when trying to conceive.

The number of IVF treatment cycles involving same-sex female couples has increased by nearly 20% year-on-year, rising from 766 treatments in 2011 to 902 in 2012. The number of donor insemination cycles involving same-sex couples (DI) rose by nearly 15%, from 1,271 in 2011 to 1,458 in 2012. These amount to a minority of overall treatments undertaken in the period covered.

Elsewhere, the HFEA’s “One at a Time” campaign to reduce multiple births is shown to have had good impact, with multiple births continuing to decrease. The report shows that multiple births occurred in 16.9% of treatment cycles in 2012, down from 18.8% in 2011.

The report also shows that the number of IVF treatment cycles using both donor eggs and donor sperm has doubled over the last five years, while the use of frozen embryos is now involved in more than 20% of all treatments.

Sally Cheshire, Chair of the HFEA welcomed the publication of the report:

At the HFEA we are committed to ensuring high quality care for everyone affected by assisted reproduction, and this report is key to that commitment. It offers unrivalled insight into one of the world’s most advanced IVF sectors, helping to inform the decisions of patients and clinicians alike.

We are very pleased to see that outcomes in most categories are improving each year, and are particularly heartened by the continuing downward trend in multiple births, something we’ve worked hard with professionals to achieve.

But as well as providing data, over time these reports offer us a unique insight into the changing nature of social norms, whether that is same-sex parenting or older mums. In that sense they have become a fascinating resource not just for patients and clinicians, but for everyone.”

Other findings include:

  • Pregnancy rate (per embryo transfer) rises for all age ranges
  • The live births rate is at highest-ever level
  • Number of IVF cycles using fresh donated eggs up more than 50% in five years
  • London and South East account for over a third of all treatments

Getting started : HFEA Sept 2017 Guide to Fertility Treatment

Lots of useful information brought together all in one place

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is the UK’s independent regulator overseeing the use of gametes and embryos in fertility treatment and research.
The HFEA has updated their free guide to fertility treatment which brings lots of useful information together all in one place.

image of the HFEA_Getting_Started_Guide_NOV_2014 cover
If you’re exploring fertility treatment, the HFEA is the first place to go for reliable information.

The HFEA expertise and years of experience mean they can provide you with authoritative, independent information. “Getting started” is their free guide to fertility treatment which brings lots of useful information together all in one place. It gives you an overall view of:

  • how and when to seek treatment
  • initial considerations (eg, NHS or private treatment)
  • how to choose a clinic and what to expect
  • treatment options
  • what to think about before starting treatment (including risks)
  • where to find support and advice.

If you’re exploring fertility treatment, the HFEA is the first place to go for reliable information. Making sure you have all the information you need means you can be confident that you’re making the right choices.

IntraCytoplasmic Sperm Injection, easier IVF Technique, is being used too widely

Survival of the unfittest: IVF technique ‘used too widely’, watchdog warns

Survival of the unfittest: IVF technique 'used too widely', watchdog warns
Lisa Jardine, who chairs the HFEA, said that some IVF clinics are using the ICSI technique simply because it is easier than standard IVF, rather than because it is in the best interests of patients.

An In Vitro Fertilization technique for injecting sperm directly into unfertilised eggs to increase the chances of a successful IVF pregnancy is being used too widely by some fertility clinics, the head of the Government’s fertility watchdog has warned. Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) involves injecting a single sperm directly into an egg in order to fertilise it. The fertilised egg (embryo) is then transferred to the woman’s womb.

Lisa Jardine, who chairs the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), said that some IVF clinics are using the ICSI technique simply because it is easier than standard IVF, rather than because it is in the best interests of patients.

Read Survival of the unfittest: IVF technique ‘used too widely’, watchdog warns, The Independent, 3 Nov 2013

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