IVF clinics should disclose their live birth rates

28 June 2018

The Senate today backed Centre Alliance Senator Stirling Griff's motion calling for IVF clinics to reveal their procedure success rates, so consumers can better understand their chances of having a baby through a clinic before spending thousands of dollars on treatment.

The motion called on the Government to work with the IVF industry to publish individual clinic performance data in a searchable database to ensure Australian families are able to make an informed choice in relation to their fertility treatment.

"At the moment, the only thing consumers have to go on is rumour, online reviews, reputation and gut feel - it's just ridiculous that they have no real data on which to base such an important decision," Senator Griff said.

The only data available is what clinics themselves choose to disclose - if any. However, statistics from UNSW’s National Perinatal Epidemiology & Statistics Unit showed that in 2014, live birth rates between fertility clinics varied between 9% and 24% for fresh cycles. In 2012, the difference in live birth rates was as low as 4% and up to 31%.

"I don't understand why consumers - and taxpayers through Medicare for that matter - are being asked to blindly pour money into poor-performing clinics when consumers in the UK and the US have the information they need to make informed choices," Senator Griff said.

In the US, the CDC publishes Assisted Reproductive Technology data  for 463 IVF clinics. For each clinic, the patient knows what procedures are performed, as well as the total number of cycles, pregnancies and live births. There is also a further breakdown of success rates per procedure and in each age group.

In the UK, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority publishes only a broad overview of individual clinic performance data, but allows patients to rate and compare clinics and also shows whether the clinic meets formal inspector standards.

"We have these great examples we can model ourselves on, but somehow, in Australia, the industry reckons it’s just too hard," Senator Griff said.

"It's a self-serving argument that ultimately only protects the worst performing clinics - which apparently cost Medicare THREE TIMES more than the best performing clinics. This protection racket has to stop, in the interest of the desperate patients who deserve to know up front that they are making the best decisions for their treatment, their finances and their hoped-for future family."

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