Prescription for Malpractice: The Yale Fertility Clinic Case

Photographs by Erik Tanner for The New York Times

In June 2020, a Yale Fertility Clinic nurse, Donna Monticone, started stealing fentanyl and replacing the vials with saline. Fentanyl is used as pain medication, whereas saline is essentially salt water. Thus, many women had to undergo egg retrieval procedures without pain medication. An egg retrieval procedure includes a needle inserted through the vagina into the ovaries to extract the eggs, which makes this procedure quite painful for the patients. Women kept yelling for pain medication through the unbearable pain but were neglected as the doctors believed that the patients already had enough pain medication in their bodies. 

This continued for five months, and the issue was finally discovered in November. As a result, 65 women who underwent these painful egg retrieval procedures filed lawsuits against the Yale Fertility Clinic for medical malpractice and other allegations.

So who’s to blame? Donna Monticone was the fuel behind the fire, as the amount of pain she caused hundreds of patients is unforgivable. But aren’t the doctors to be blamed as well? This injustice went on for five whole months, and despite the patient’s discomfort, the doctors did absolutely nothing and neglected their patients’ wellbeing. Yale News states that according to the DOJ, “approximately 75% of the clinics’ vials” were replaced by saline. This displays the alleged negligence of the doctors and the amount of harm it caused to the clinic’s patients.

In addition, according to Yale News, when the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency conducted more investigations, they discovered “discrepancies in hundreds of units of controlled substances, including fentanyl, ketamine, and midazolam.” The clinic also was disorganized in providing records of the substances’ purchases and sales. The plaintiffs argued that “Yale failed to implement safeguards against opioid diversion, such as a drug-testing program for staff who have access to opioids.”

Donna Monticone stealing fentanyl was a mere lock that opened the door to the medical misconduct that the Yale Fertility Clinic continued to be involved in, whether that be in terms of clinical records of narcotics, the doctors’ negligence, and the failure to provide to their patient’s wellbeing. Essentially, her actions set forth a series of events that hurt many people and exposed flaws in the medicinal practice of the Yale Fertility Clinic.

As people realize the value of medicine and health, especially post-pandemic, it becomes increasingly crucial for health providers to be more aware and treat their patients to the best of their abilities. We, as patients, should also make sure to speak out if we ever encounter medical malpractice or negligence. In doing so, we can stop malpractice as soon as it happens, preventing more lives from being negatively affected.

Works Cited                         

Kayla Yup & William Porayouw. “Yale to Pay DOJ $308K Following Fertility Clinic Allegations, Dozens of Victims Move to Sue.” Yale Daily News, 17 Oct. 2022, sue/#:~:text=A%20civil%20investigation%20found%20that,medical%20battery%2C%20among%20other%20allegations.