How to Identify a “Bad” IVF Clinic - A Guide for Patients

How to Identify a “Bad” IVF Clinic - A Guide for Patients

written by: Ms. Sharon LaMothe
by: Ms. Sharon LaMothe
Embryology-lab-microscope Embryology-lab-microscope

If you have been doing any research you know that IVF has become a big business today. How can you protect yourself from poorly equipped inexperienced doctors, who set up IVF clinics just to make money? It can be very hard for patients to differentiate between a "good" IVF clinic and a "bad" IVF clinic because they all seem to be the same - and patients are not sophisticated enough to be able to make out which offers a better service.

For example, many IVF clinics will advertise that they have bought the newest machine and have the latest technology . However, these are often marketing gimmicks to get media publicity - they do not really help the patient or improve success rates in any way. In fact, many of these "high tech wonders" often end up collecting dust in the lab, because they are never used after the first flush of excitement over their novelty value dies down.

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. Just going by a clinic's reputation does not help (some big name clinics are just money making mills) - and even checking the success rates can lead you astray especially since they are 2 years old by the time the SART reports are available.

I feel the only effective solution is to be well-informed about what an IVF treatment cycle involves, so that you know the clinic you select provides state of the art technology.

Do they cryopreserve embryos? Do they offer vitrification? Do they offer blastocyst transfer? Do they provide photographic documentation of your embryos? Do they offer PGD ( preimplantation genetic diagnosis) and PGS (preimplantation genetic screening)

Here are some of the red flags which should warn you the clinic may not be very good.

They depend upon an out of town doctor who travels to the clinic for a few days every month to do the clinical procedures They perform less than 100 IVF cycles every year They do not have a full-time embryologist They "batch patients" because they don't have the required expertise in-house and need to "import" qualified people for the treatment They do not document their medical treatment protocols They do not provide you with a medical treatment summary They do not answer your questions They do not provide you with photographs of your embryos

I feel the last is critically important. While the clinical outcome of an IVF cycle is always uncertain, since doctors cannot control embryo implantation, producing good quality embryos is a function of the IVF clinic, and correlates directly with the skill and expertise of the IVF lab. Good IVF clinics take pride in their skills - and by documenting the embryos they produce in their lab, they can show their patients that they are transparent and skilled!

Of course there are exceptions in every situation such as a good clinic may be small and only preform 50 transfers....or they may batch patients to make the cost more affordable. But there is no excuse for lack of documentation, unanswered questions and not providing medical treatment summaries. Do your research and then decide what clinic is the best fit for you.