ACE requires code for embryologists
Dr Kirsty Horsey
Progress Educational Trust
17 January 2003
The UK's Association of Clinical Embryologists (ACE) is to ask scientists involved in IVF and other fertility treatments to sign a new code of conduct that shows their commitment to professional
standards. The introduction of the new code follows concerns about recent high-profile cases involving mistakes at IVF clinics in the UK.
The recent conviction of embryologist Paul Fielding, alleged to have defrauded and assaulted a number of IVF patients by thawing and implanting 'fake' embryos, and last years' incident of mixed-race twins being born to a white couple have sparked discussion about how
to prevent similar problems in the future. At the ACE annual conference, Sue Avery, chair of the association, said that clinical procedures needed to be tightened.
ACE research shows that 71 per cent of IVF clinics in the UK are understaffed. Dr Steve Harbottle, an embryologist who announced the findings at the conference said that 'overworked staff increased the
risk of mistakes', adding that 'staffing should reflect the maximum caseload. There must be some slack in the system so we are not constantly running at maximum capacity'.
Adding that embryologists were scientists, not doctors, she said that they required their own professional code: 'the idea is to make the membership aware what standards of conduct we expect and on what grounds we would expel them from the association'.
Meanwhile, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has announced a new alert system for fertility clinics, designed to help prevent mistakes. Angela McNab, the HFEA's new chief executive, told the ACE conference 'we are looking at an alert system
which will very quickly alert all clinics when an incident has occurred, as a reminder to check procedures'.
© Copyright Progress Educational Trust
Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.
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