A new study published in the respected reproductive medicine journal Fertility and Sterility has raised concerns about transparency of the federal reporting system for IVF pregnancy rates.
Researchers from Center of Human Reproduction in New York City found that a number of IVF centers are manipulating IVF success rate reporting in order to artificially inflate their clinic’s pregnancy success rates. Their manipulation of the reporting system has allowed them to gain dramatic economic advantages over properly reporting centers.
Every IVF clinic in the United States is required to report IVF cycle outcomes – both successful and unsuccessful – to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Many centers report their data to the CDC through the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies (SART) voluntary reporting system. These two parallel national data collections are publicly available.
SART and the CDC discourage patients from selecting their IVF clinic solely based on the clinic’s success rates, as looking at this data without considering which types of infertility the clinic specializes in, as well of the age group of their clientele, can be misleading. Yet, for many people seeking IVF treatment, success rates are a big factor when looking for potential IVF centers.
The researchers examined the national reporting system’s transparency by evaluating the number of IVF centers that were omitting cycles from their annual report. They found that out of 341 clinics, 13 centers failed to report the outcomes of 37.3% of IVF cycles. The bulk of these unreported cycles were of older women, who tend to have a lower chance of becoming pregnant through IVF.
This under-reporting and misrepresenting of IVF success rates not only providing misleading information to prospective patients – it also lead the clinics to increase their share of the U.S. IVF market by as much as 19%. Dr. Norbert Gleicher, MD, the study’s senior author and Medical Director and Chief Scientist at CHR commented:
“We conceived of this study because Senator Wyden, who was instrumental as Congressman in passage of the FCSRCA, recently suggested this national IVF reporting to CDC as a ‘good example’ for other reporting systems that could be implemented throughout medicine under the Affordable Care Act. Our results, of course, suggest otherwise.”
The researchers hope that the publication of their study will shed light on the inaccuracy of the national reporting system for IVF success rates – and hopefully lead to a reform of the SART and CDC reporting requirements.
Read the full report here.