British Fertility Society response to the HFEA report into adverse incidents

The British Fertility Society welcomes today’s publication[1] by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority into adverse incidents occurring in UK IVF units between 1st January 2010 and 31st December 2012.

British Fertility Society Chairman Dr Allan Pacey said: “We are pleased to see that there are so few serious incidents (Grade A) reported by UK clinics. This confirms our view that assisted conception in the UK is a safe and low-risk process and that UK fertility professionals are participating in a no-blame, honest and transparent culture of reporting incidents to the regulatory authority so that lessons can be learned across the sector”.

The British Fertility Society notes that the majority of Grade B clinical incidents relate to the incidence of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome – a known complication of the drugs given to women during IVF treatment. The BFS has long been aware of the difficulties involved in preventing and managing this clinical problem and in 2013 published three guidance documents for its members[2] which summarise the available evidence and provide practical guidance to clinicians.

The BFS considers that the considerable number of less serious (Grade C) incidents that were reported reflects the mature and professional commitment of fertility clinics to improve care in their specialty.

Dr. Jane Stewart, BFS Secretary said “The HFEA are rightly concerned about the number of Grade C incidents reported, however, the total number of incidents remains low when taking into account the number of cycles of licensed fertility treatment undertaken around the country. Moreover, whilst important in relation to the quality of care provided by centres, Grade C incidents do not constitute a risk to patient safety.”

The BFS will be working closely with the HFEA to understand the detail of this report and see how through its meetings, guidance documents and training programmes it can further support quality improvements in UK clinics.


Notes for editors:

[1] The HFEA report is available here: “Adverse incidents in fertility clinics: lessons to learn 2010 – 2012” (July 2014)

[2] The British Fertility Society has previously published three guidance documents regarding Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome:
Nardo LG, Bosch E, Lambalk CB & Gelbaya TA(2013) Controlled ovarian hyperstimulation regimens: a review of the available evidence for clinical practice. Produced on behalf of the BFS Policy and Practice Committee. Human Fertility 16 (3): 144–150.
Tan BK & Mathur R (2013) Management of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. Produced on behalf of the BFS Policy and Practice Committee. Human Fertility 16 (3): 151–159.
Tan BK & Mathur R (2013) Management of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome Guidelines. Produced on behalf of the BFS Policy and Practice Committee. Human Fertility 16 (3): 160–161.