Freezer failure at children's hospital part of “pattern of devastating failures” in labs

Sept. 30, 2019

The failure of stem cell freezer equipment at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles is “the latest tragedy in a pattern of devastating failures” at medical laboratories across the United States, according to the law firm Peiffer Wolf Carr & Kane, APLC (Peiffer Wolf).

Attorney Adam Wolf, who currently is handling two major freezer failure lawsuits, said: “Here we have the loss of critical stem cell material for 56 patients. As is typical in these cases, the hospital is claiming that there are no consequences to this loss, but our experience shows that this is devastating. Typically, stem cells and embryos are frozen specifically due to the concern they will not be available — or will be of inferior quality — if an attempt is made to produce them later. This is a tragedy for the victims.”

Wolf added: “The families with young ones at Children’s Hospital are already dealing with very difficult medical situations. They deserve answers and justice. If irreplaceable stem cells have been lost, Children’s Hospital needs to answer for that. We need the facts: What happened to the freezer in this situation? Was it properly maintained and were all the alarms functioning? When was it last inspected and what came of that process? What steps have been taken to prevent this from happening again?”

Wolf also noted that hospitals sometimes underestimate the extent of the loss of frozen medical material and then later admit to the much larger extent of the damage they have inflicted.

Peiffer Wolf is a major presence in litigation surrounding the large-scale embryo losses during the spring of 2018 as a result of freezer failures at both Pacific Fertility Center in San Francisco and University Hospitals Fertility Center in Cleveland.

Given the lack of adequate regulatory oversight of fertility centers that are heavily reliant on freezer equipment, Peiffer Wolf issued an August 2019 report urging tighter United Kingdom-style regulation of medical laboratories.

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