Legal Articles

July 10, 2013

Fertility center success rates can be misleading

Patients considering in-vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures will likely do their research before investing a large chunk of their money in such a risky business. One thing they might research is the success rates of various fertility clinics around the country. So the fact that a new study has found problems with success rate reporting from some such clinics is worrisome, and potential patients should take heed of their findings.

13 outliers with surprising statistics

The study authors analyzed a database maintained by the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies and found “the proportion of cycles that were begun but had no reported final outcome—successful or unsuccessful—increased from 2005 to 2010.” And of the 341 centers represented in the data, 13 centers were characterized as outliers because “the reported significantly better overall pregnancy rates than the average clinic.”

A third of all cycles excluded

Did this higher success rate mean those 13 clinics were much better than their peers? Not necessarily. Dr. Vitaly Kushnir, leader of the study for New York’s Center for Human Reproduction said, “It seems a large part of [the reason for their high success rates] is these clinics have been excluding poor prognosis patients from outcome reporting.” Whether this omission was conscious, Kushnir couldn’t say. However, the study found that a third of the initiated cycles at these institutions were excluded, compared to just 7 percent of the cycles at the average fertility center.

Based on these findings, Kushnir recommended that when people do their research, they ought to look at more than just success rates.


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