UH addressing embryo crisis by offering services, support to patients

UH addressing embryo crisis by offering services, support to patients
(Source: WOIO)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - After more than 2,000 embryos and eggs were potentially damaged when a nitrogen-cooled storage tank heated up, University Hospitals is trying to address the issue and work with patients as lawsuits mount.

The embattled Cleveland hospital issued the following statement to update patients and the public on what staff are doing to address the ongoing crisis:

As our investigation of the UH Fertility Clinic situation continues, we are able to provide this update regarding the most current information, which may change as we continue our review.

Our physicians and medical staff continue to talk and meet with patients about their care. To date, the five nurses staffing our patient information line have responded to more than 900 patient calls, and call volume is declining. Our physicians have personally talked with or seen approximately 400 patients about their medical needs.  

We are offering patients who had stored eggs or embryos with us an in vitro package tailored to their individual clinical needs. We also will refund storage fees and will waive storage fees in the future for seven years. A signed release will not be requested for them to obtain these services.  

The units for these types of storage are complex, and it is taking time to examine all aspects of the situation. Among the areas under review are:

  • The storage tank and its individual components, which include a temperature monitoring system; pressure monitoring system; and, computer software
  • Alarm systems
  • Security – both physical and cybersecurity
  • Liquid nitrogen issues (the tanks use liquid nitrogen)
  • Preventive maintenance

Since we have restricted key card access and monitor recordkeeping to these areas, thus far we have ruled out any inappropriate physical access. We believe a hack into the computer portions of the equipment is not likely, but we have not ruled it out completely given a similar occurrence at a fertility center in San Francisco on the same day.  

We are still completing the root cause analysis because of the number of components in the system that must be analyzed. We already have purchased new storage tanks. The new tanks have new alarms from a different vendor.

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