//UPDATE – Health Ombudsman investigation into services delivered by assisted reproductive technology (ART) providers in Queensland

UPDATE – Health Ombudsman investigation into services delivered by assisted reproductive technology (ART) providers in Queensland

11 March 2024

The Office of the Health Ombudsman (the OHO) last year began investigating health services delivered by 24 licenced assisted reproductive technology (ART) providers in Queensland.

The initial scope of the investigation was to examine any identified issues, non-compliance or adverse events associated with:

  • the handling of gametes and embryos, including collection, labelling, storage and transportation;
  • maximum donation and distribution of gametes within Australia;
  • screening techniques for gametes and embryos used in Queensland; and
  • record keeping including donor and recipient information sharing and compliance with updating records relating to changes in donor’s health information.

In March 2024, after further issues were identified, the scope of the investigation was broadened to consider:

  • whether adequate information is made available to consumers, to allow them to provide informed consent when choosing ART treatment
  • whether donated sperm is of good quality and in accordance with the World Health Organisation laboratory manual for the examination and processing of human semen.
  • use of gender selection in accordance with the National Health and Medical Research Council Guidelines
  • concerns raised by consumers about delays in the disposal of genetic material.

In line with the revised scope, the OHO is reviewing current and closed complaints and enquiries it has received about health services provided by licenced ART providers in Queensland. The OHO will also consider the following themes identified from the analysis of complaints and information obtained for this investigation:

  • current mechanisms for the oversight of ART services and applicable standards
  • open disclosure and the management of complaints and adverse events by ART providers;
  • impacts on consumers identified in responses to complaints and adverse events

The investigation aims to identify systemic issues affecting ART consumers in Queensland and will make recommendations to improve the practices and procedures of ART providers..

Outcomes and recommendations from the OHO’s investigation will complement the current work Queensland Health is undertaking in relation to likely legislative changes to the ART regulatory regime.

It will also inform effective implementation of the Queensland Government’s Legal Affairs and Safety Committee's report Inquiry into matters relating to donor conception information.