Dozens of patients have sued Yale after saline was swapped for fentanyl

New Haven, Conn.-based Yale University is facing mounting lawsuits from former patients who claim they underwent fertility procedures without receiving painkillers under the assumption that they would. 

Seven former patients filed a lawsuit Oct. 10, claiming they underwent painful fertility procedures with little to no pain relief, according to a report from the New Haven Independent. Dozens of other patients who underwent fertility surgeries at Yale sued the university earlier this year, also saying they underwent extremely painful procedures. 

In the fall of 2020, Donna Monticone, a former nurse responsible for the ordering and inventory of controlled substances at the Yale Fertility Center on Yale University's West Campus in Orange, Conn., was found to have been stealing vials of fentanyl used for fertility procedures and replacing them with saline. Vials of saline were then administered to patients by staff members, who at the time, did not know pain medications had been tampered with. 

The plaintiffs say Yale did not take proper steps to prevent the diversion of at least 75 percent of fentanyl stored at the clinic by Ms. Monticone, who pleaded guilty to tampering with a consumer product in March 2021. Some plaintiffs claim they did not understand the reason for their pain until The New York Times released a podcast series in June 2023 called "The Retrievals." The five-part narrative series delves into how the pain medication tampering led to an estimated hundreds of women undergoing painful egg retrieval procedures at the university's fertility clinic. 

In a statement to the New Haven Independent, a Yale spokesperson said the university took all necessary steps after learning of the fentanyl substitution, including terminating the nurse involved and contacting authorities. 

In October 2022, Yale paid $308,250 to resolve allegations it violated the Controlled Substances Act, after an audit from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency found "discrepancies in 665 units of controlled substances."

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