At Reproductive Medicine Institute, nothing is more important to us and our patients than safety and success.  While our success rates are at or above US averages, our commitment to safety especially in the IVF laboratory is unparalleled. With the recent news story coming out of an IVF practice in Los Angeles, we wanted to take moment to share how we are committed to safety in the IVF lab.

We had the chance to speak with Ian Oravec, from the RMI embryology team based in Oak Brook, IL, about the many steps and processes used to ensure that safety and success go hand in hand.

What kind of procedures are embryologists doing on a day-to-day basis at RMI?

Ian: We perform all aspects of IVF from egg retrievals, ICSI, embryo transfers, and embryo biopsy for genetic testing just to name a few. I’m one of the senior embryologists at RMI and have been working in the field of embryology for almost 10 years. One of the most important pieces of equipment used to reduce errors and improve safety is a technology called RI Witness.

How does an electronic witnessing platform make sure the right patient gets the right embryo for example?

Ian: RI Witness is used in our IVF lab to prevent potential errors and to help streamline the workflow.  RMI was one of the first centers in the nation and the first in Illinois to start using RI Witness.  Using this piece of equipment allows the lab staff to track patients’ embryos through each step of treatment.

RI Witness works by using RFID tags to track every dish and test tube used throughout the patient’s treatment in the lab. Every patient’s unique identifying information is entered into a database so when a patient’s dish is placed on the RI Witness, the embryologist can see who the patient is, their unique identifiers and gives an electronic double-check.

If the wrong combination of gametes is put in the same area on the RI Witness platform an alarm goes off and it does not allow you to proceed until the lab supervisor inputs an explanation of what error occurred. Using this technology helps embryologists be more efficient in the lab. It allows embryologists to perform routine tasks without distracting other embryologists from their current tasks to give a physical witness.

When patients are researching IVF centers, should they ask if their center maintains a witnessing platform or process?

Ian: Yes, absolutely. Using electronic witnessing platforms like RI Witness means better care for our patients and less stress for our staff. It gives RMI patients more peace of mind and makes the odds of something happening like what we learned about in LA this week exceedingly rare. Patients will be sure that the oocytes we inject with sperm belong to both intended parents and the embryos we transfer are truly theirs.