Judge blocks UH officials from discussing litigation with impacted fertility clinic patients

Judge blocks UH officials from discussing litigation with impacted fertility clinic patients
University Hospitals (Source WOIO)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - A Cuyahoga County judge signed a replacement court order today that says University Hospitals officials cannot speak with patients affected by the embryo crisis about their pending litigation. 

This new order replaces one signed by a judge last week, and is an agreement between the hospital system, the patients and their counsel.

Attorney Eric Zagrans, who is representing one couple, told Cleveland 19 that the hospital is allowed to contact patients, but can only speak with them regarding their medical care and cannot discuss any settlements or other legal aspects.

Staff can discuss certain aspects of the care, including new rounds of in vitro, a reimbursement of past storage fees and waiver of new storage fees.

Staff cannot engage in any civil discussion with the affected patients, unless those not using a lawyer would like to speak on that issue. The hospital can speak with the patient's lawyers.

The new order also requires UH to release medical records for free to the affected patients without the need to speak with a doctor or a hospital representative.

It also says that patients can ask not to be contacted at all, and they must honor that.

At least 13 lawsuits have been filed against University Hospitals after there was a temperature fluctuation at the tissue storage bank earlier this month. Hundreds of frozen embryos and eggs were likely compromised, according to the hospital.

In a past statement, University Hospitals said, "We understand why some people might feel compelled to take this step. Any lawsuits being filed will have no bearing on the independent review being conducted or our determination to help patients who have suffered this loss."

The hospital is still investigating what happened.

UH has also filed a motion requesting the court to consolidate all of the lawsuits, and that motion is pending.

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