Patient and Sample Identification and Witnessing

24 April 2014

There has been a recent report from Rome ( ) where a woman conceived twins allegedly with someone else’s embryos.

We thought it worthwhile explaining the procedures at Coastal IVF to absolutely prevent this.

The Reproductive Technology Accreditation Committee (RTAC) of the Fertility Society of Australia is the body that oversees standards. One of the requirements for accreditation is strict adherence to the “Patient and Sample Identification guidelines” in the RTAC Code of Practice and the National Health and Medical Research Counsel guidelines on Assisted Reproductive Technology in Clinical Practice.

These guidelines lay out a strict protocol. All critical steps in the Assisted Reproduction process (called Critical Identification Points) have been identified. Examples of these are; when sperm and eggs are combined or at intrauterine insemination or embryo transfer or certain steps in the IVF laboratory process.
Before any one of these critical steps the patient and sample must be identified and witnessed by two people. For example, for a clinical procedure such as embryo transfer this will be Dr. Stokes and the embryologist, Peter Jackson. For laboratory procedures it will be the embryologist and another person trained in the correct identification and double witnessing process. All critical identification points are double witnessed at the time they are performed and then a written record must confirm correct identification.

Strict labelling protocols and separation of samples is maintained in the laboratory. Only one patient’s gametes or embryos can be processed at any point in time - all biological materials must be cleared or put away before commencing work on the next patient’s gametes or embryos.

As part of the annual accreditation process these witnessing records are audited to ensure that accurate records have been maintained by the clinic. The clinic’s witnessing and identification protocols and biological sample handling protocols are also audited to ensure that they come up to the standard required by the RTAC code of practice.

We take our responsibility to correctly and safely handle your gametes and embryos very seriously - as Peter likes to say “it helps me sleep at night knowing the correct process has been followed”.