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Italian Reproductive Medicine Center Uses RFID to Track In Vitro Fertilization

Genera has found that Research Instruments' RI Witness solution makes its Rome and Naples clinics more efficient, while providing extra confidence to patients and embryologists that every process will be error-free.
By Claire Swedberg
Jul 28, 2015

There's a lot at stake when embryologists conduct in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures. Both patients and embryologists are aware of the potential for mistakes, such as a mismatched egg or sperm, and embryologists must thus have a witness double-check their work at every step. Even with that process in place, however, errors can still occur.

Research Instruments (RI), a UK-based in vitro fertilization technology company, is offering RI Witness, a solution that employs high-frequency (HF) RFID technology to pair specimens with the appropriate patient automatically, thereby ensuring that an alert will be sounded before a mistake can be made.

An RFID reader built into a work table captures the serial number of the RFID tag attached to a petri dish.
The Genera Center for Reproductive Medicine installed RI Witness in 2012 at its clinic in Rome, and last year at its Naples clinic, says Laura Rienzi, a senior clinic embryologist and the laboratory director for both facilities.

Genera conducts approximately 1,200 procedures annually at its Rome site alone. Prior to implementing RI Witness, the clinic had a strict manual protocol that embryologists followed in order to prevent errors from being made at the busy lab. "We had in place a very good traceability process through double-witnessing," Rienzi explains. In fact, she reports, the clinic hasn't had any errors. In 2012, however, the Rome clinic was growing, the lab was busy and finding a witness available for each process was not always easy.

Therefore, after six months of validation testing, the clinic adopted the automated RFID system to track the eggs and sperm, along with each process the samples undergo during the fertilization process, as well as to marry those specimens with a specific patient. With RFID tags embedded in containers and in a patient's ID card, the RI Witness system enables clinics to prevent any mistakes from occurring, such as the wrong sperm or egg being used during the fertilization process, or embryos being matched with the wrong patients.

Research Instruments, which is now 50 years old, got its start in micromanipulation for the electronics and semiconductor industries for manufacturing. As silicon chips continued to shrink, RI's technology was no longer operable with them, and the company thus began diversifying its offerings into the biomedical industry. In that sector, micromanipulation is also required to work with human eggs and sperm, and RI currently makes a variety of technologies and products for the IVF industry, including micromanipulation systems, moveable lasers and IVF thermometers.

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