Ohio DOH, Joint Commission investigating University Hospitals after fertility clinic incident

The Ohio Department of Health, the Joint Commission and the College of American Pathologists began independent investigations into Cleveland-based University Hospitals after a freezer at its fertility clinic malfunctioned, affecting an estimated 700 patients' eggs and embryos, cleveland.com reports.

Here are five things to know about the agencies' investigations.

1. University Hospitals notified an estimated 700 patients after temperatures inside a liquid nitrogen freezer at the UH Fertility Center — part of Beachwood, Ohio-based University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center — unexpectedly rose sometime between March 3 and March 4, damaging the more than 2,000 frozen eggs and embryos contained inside the freezer.

2. The health system issued a statement March 8, stating officials are investigating the incident and have brought in independent experts to assess the situation.

"We are investigating a recent incident at our fertility clinic involving an unexpected temperature fluctuation with the tissue storage bank where eggs and embryos are stored in liquid nitrogen. At this time, we don't yet know the viability of these eggs and embryos," the statement reads.

3. In response to the incident, the Ohio DOH sent a team to the health system March 13 to determine if the hospital is in compliance with regulations outlined under the federal Medicare and Medicaid programs, a DOH spokesperson told cleveland.com via email. CMS reportedly told the health department to investigate the hospital. The report's findings will not be made public until CMS authorizes the release of the information, the spokesperson noted.

4. A spokesperson for the Joint Commission told the publication the agency's Office of Quality and Patient Safety "is aware of a patient safety concern [at the hospital and] is currently reviewing the concern," according to the report. The Joint Commission performed its last onsite survey of the hospital in January 2017.

5. The College of American Pathologists has also launched an investigation into the incident. CAP reportedly drafted a letter to UH outlining specific questions related to the equipment malfunction. It is unclear if UH has received the letter. If it has, the health system has 10 days to respond to the CAP, which may follow up with an onsite visit. The CAP conducted its last visit in 2016. Laboratories are required to be inspected every two years.

To access the report, click here.

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