ACCC finds IVF clinics providing misleading information on success rates

An investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has found that some IVF clinics in Australia have made misleading claims about their treatment success rates on their websites.

The findings mirror information gathered by VARTA in an audit of 32 clinic websites conducted earlier this year. The results of the audit show that clinic website information on IVF success rates fall short of the Reproductive Technology Accreditation Committee (RTAC) Good Practice Criterion which states that ‘the organisation must provide information that is accurate, timely and in formats appropriate to the patient’.

The VARTA study, released at the Fertility Society of Australia conference in September, found that, on average, the quality and clarity of information provided by clinic websites scored 4.88 (on a scale of 1-7, with seven being the highest result) with almost two-thirds scoring five or less.

All clinics stated how they measured success but only 40 per cent defined this as the birth of a live baby. In fact, more than a third of websites did not clearly indicate how they defined their success rate figures.

While more than 80 per cent of clinics stated that age affects a person’s chance of having a baby with IVF treatment, less than 10 per cent discussed the impact that lifestyle factors like being overweight, smoking and alcohol can have on treatment success.

VARTA has been liaising with the ACCC and other regulators in relation to these developments and will continue to monitor and have dialog with Victorian clinics in relation to these matters.

To help people understand the presentation of success rates by clinics, VARTA has produced the brochure, Understanding IVF success rates.