Protocols for tracking and witnessing samples and patients in assisted reproductive technology

The tracking and witnessing protocols in ART are of relevant importance for safety and risk management. Reasons for human error as well as laboratory procedures and current protocols are addressed.


Maria José de los Santos, Ph.D., Amparo Ruiz, M.D.

Volume 100, Issue 6, Pages 1499-1502, December 2013


In view of the increasing emphasis being placed on patient safety and quality health care, it is extremely important to develop fail-safe mechanisms to prevent assisted reproductive technology (ART) mix-ups. Sample mismatch is the most undesirable event that can occur in an IVF laboratory as it may have catastrophic consequences for both patients and health care professionals. Many strategies can be adopted to reduce laboratory errors, such as improved quality control and quality assessment, certification, educational programs, and external quality assessment. Nevertheless, none suffices to absolutely prevent this error. Therefore, the implementation of specific policies, such as double-checking safety protocols, is receiving more and more interest. After some adverse events involving sample misidentification occurred in some countries, double-checking every step of the IVF clinical and laboratory procedure has become mandatory. However, double-checking protocols can also prove difficult to implement and a new generation of errors may occur. Other approaches, including electronic strategies for tracking, and even microlabeling embryos, are currently being evaluated.

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