Yale University sued by tortured IVF patients as nurse replaced fentanyl with saline
The nurse Donna Monticone stole the painkilling opioid for personal use causing patients to suffer excruciating pain during invasive IVF procedures.
Seven women are suing Yale University's fertility clinic after they were left screaming during egg retrieval as part of the in-vitro process. They experienced severe pain for several days after the procedure and a nurse at the facility was responsible for their ordeal. Donna Monticone had replaced fentanyl, a pain-relieving opioid, with saline and saved it for personal use. On November 17, the women filed a lawsuit that stated that the university failed to safeguard their fentanyl supply.
The affected women were all patients at Yale's Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility clinic in Orange, Connecticut. Their names are Melissa Cowan, Alyssa Gargiulo, Brianne Mcloughlin, Leah Mirakhor, Dilay Nacar, Awo Osafo-Addo, and Nicole Walsh. According to the lawsuit, all of them experienced "excruciating" oocyte retrievals. The process requires a surgeon to maneuver "a thick needle through the vaginal wall, ovarian ligament, ovary, and ovarian follicle to aspirate mature eggs." Stanford Children's Health states the process has to be performed under sedation administered intravenously. This process takes 20 to 30 minutes and most women don't feel any pain because of the sedation, which these seven women were robbed of.
Fentanyl at Yale's fertility clinic was 75% diluted with saline
Monticone, 49, was sentenced for tampering with fentanyl vials on May 25. She was ordered to serve three years of supervised release, four weekends of incarceration, and three months of home confinement. According to the ruling, she began stealing fentanyl for herself in June 2020 and an investigation revealed she injected the vials with saline to avoid suspicion. 75% of the drug was discovered to be just saline in some vials while a couple of others were just saline and no drug at all. "It was more pain than I could ever imagine," one woman told a local news station back in March, according to Daily Mail. "I remember screaming in the middle of the procedure from pain," another patient said. They alleged that Yale dismissed their complaints saying the pain was "normal".
The suit also says that Yale tried to skimp on costs by bulk buying fentanyl which led to it being tampered with. Monticone was the person in charge of the shipments and she admitted to diverting fentanyl from the facility for herself after injecting herself with it one day. The suit alleges Yale violated state and federal laws by keeping more than 175 vials of fentanyl unsupervised and in an unlocked area. They failed to implement safeguards including drug testing staff with access to opioids. "Yale's failure to develop and implement safety measures mandated by state and federal law to secure drugs like fentanyl resulted in these patients being traumatized. What should have been a time of hope for these women and their families became one of unimaginable suffering," Joshua Koskofff, the lawyer representing the women said in a statement. Yale has said they will reserve their comments in this matter. The lawsuit is seeking undisclosed damages.