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W.R.Brown MBA

08 February 2008

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A groundbreaking new device has been launched worldwide that takes the IVF process to a much higher level of safety.

In a move that will reassure patients everywhere, a rapidly growing number of clinics in the UK, the US and elsewhere are adopting IVF Witness – a system which is revolutionising the IVF process by eliminating the possibility of mix ups. 

Developed by Research Instruments Ltd, IVF Witness uses radio frequency identification tags to track IVF samples through the fertilisation process and sets off an alarm if samples from different parents are brought into the same work area. Exhaustive tests have proved the RFID system to be absolutely safe.

Overlake Reproductive Health in Bellevue, Seattle, is the first clinic in America to use IVF Witness.

‘I admit I was sceptical at first but, after using the system for the last four months, I am now a complete convert,’ said Shaun Kelly, Overlake’s Laboratory Director.  ‘We still check everything visually because, if anything, the system makes you even more aware of the importance of vigilance. 

‘The advantages are two-fold.  Firstly, patients feel far more relaxed and confident about the procedure because they have an ID card which puts them in control and secondly embryologists are reassured by having an extra safety net.  It tightens up the whole IVF process and makes it far more secure.’

Hull IVF Unit, a UK-based clinic that was recently given a five star rating in the latest ivfworld.com ratings survey, has also started using the new system.

‘We have chosen to install this system for two reasons,’ said Dr John Robinson, Hull IVF Unit’s Scientific Director.  ‘Firstly, and most importantly, it greatly reduces the possibility of human error.  Secondly, unlike the double witness process, it does not require two members of staff to operate – it allows embryologists to work safely and effectively, without frequent interruptions to witness with other colleagues. 

‘In Hull we see about 350 IVF patients each year and the manual system becomes more difficult to manage, and potentially less reliable, the busier it gets.  IVF Witness minimises human intervention and the system’s workstation won’t allow the wrong eggs and sperm to be used in the same location:  very reassuring for both patients and staff.  In effect, it is providing a continual and very robust safety check, independent, and additional to the many checks embryologists have to carry out while working.’

Bill Brown is the Managing Director of Research Instruments, based in the UK, which developed the device.

‘After looking at several possible alternatives, we chose to develop a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) system because it is far more effective and reliable than anything else on the market,’ he said. ‘RFID continually monitors the whole work area so no transfer can take place between non-matching samples.  It makes it impossible for a sample to be transferred to a non-matching patient without an alarm going off.’

For more information, visit www.research-instruments.com

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Date Added: 08 February 2008   Date Updated: 08 February 2008
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