RMTI/Community Lab Update

In spring of 2013 the University of Utah was contacted by a family who reported they had received infertility treatments in Salt Lake City at a now-defunct clinic, Reproductive Medical Technologies, Inc. (RMTI) in the early 1990’s. According to the family, recent genetic tests had concluded that the couple’s daughter was not the biological offspring of her father. In response to the obvious concern this raised for the family and the University of Utah, senior leaders at the University of Utah began the process to identify and recover available information regarding the relationship between RMTI and the former University of Utah Community Laboratory (now also closed).

We recognize that this circumstance creates concern and anxiety for our patients. We are committed to our patients and to providing exceptional care, protecting patient privacy, and being transparent and honest about our response to this situation. The resources assembled here will provide information and guidance on how we can help you to resolve your concerns. 

Read the result of the investigation:

Questions or Concerns?

Please call: 801-587-5852

FAQ's

  1. What happened?
  2. What was the relationship between Reproductive Medical Technology, Inc. (RMTI) and University of Utah Health Care Community Laboratory?
  3. What has the University of Utah Health Care done about this issue?
  4. Is this clinic continuing to operate?
  5. Why did you choose a special committee and outside expert to review this case?
  6. Have laboratory standards changed?
  7. What should a concerned patient do after learning about this incident?
  8. How will you keep patients informed?
  9. Where can I get more information?
  10. If I’m concerned and want my child tested, do I need his/her consent?
  11. I used or was conceived with anonymous donor sperm. I’d like information on my sperm donor.  Where can I obtain this?

Q: What happened?

A: A woman shared concerns with us and the media, reporting that she and her husband received infertility treatment at the University of Utah Community Laboratory and Reproductive Medical Technologies, Inc. (RMTI) in the early 1990s. Recently, a genetic test revealed that contrary to what they had believed, her husband was not the biological father of the couple’s daughter, who was born in 1992. The family reported that the biological father has since been identified as Tom Lippert, a former medical technician of the two clinics who was responsible for preparing sperm samples. From the information that we have to date, we can not be certain as to what occurred. We sympathize with the anxiety this family has suffered and we understand that this information may raise concern for others.

Q: What was the relationship between Reproductive Medical Technology, Inc. (RMTI) and University of Utah Health Care Community Laboratory?

A. University of Utah Community Laboratory and RMTI began an affiliation in 1984 which ended when RMTI became defunct in 1998. Although the two laboratories were separate legal entities, we have now learned that in addition to being co-located, the labs shared administrative oversight and staff. Understandably, to many patients they might well have appeared to be one entity. This overlap has made it difficult to piece together who had oversight of various activities, and who was ultimately accountable. Both clinics employed Mr. Lippert.

Q: What has the University of Utah done about this issue?

A: When this issue was first raised, we took several immediate actions. First, we began looking for records associated with the case many of which are over two decades old. Second, we assembled a team of top medical professionals to review them. Third, we retained an independent third-party medical ethicist to review the methodology used by the committee and its findings and recommendations.

Q: Is this clinic continuing to operate?

A: The RMTI facility is now defunct. It closed in 1998 when its founder passed away. The University’s Community Laboratory also closed approximately ten years ago.

Q: Why did you choose a special committee and outside expert to review this case?

A: The information currently available raises challenging medical and ethical issues. For this reason, we have assigned three physician leaders to review the facts and make findings and recommendations for moving forward. We have retained an outside medical ethicist to review the methodology, findings, and recommendations to ensure the integrity of the process.

Q: Have laboratory standards changed?

A: Our policies and protocols today are very different than what was in place in these two labs, given the industry standard in the 80’s and early 90’s. In the laboratories and clinics where we handle patient specimens and treat infertility and other conditions today, we maintain strict protocols regarding identification and tissue handling. We meet rigorous national accreditation standards and perform internal compliance audits and reviews. We no longer maintain a donor sperm bank and rely instead on national banks. In addition, all our employees undergo careful screening and criminal background checks.

Q: What should a concerned patient do after learning about this incident?

A: Our patients are our primary focus. We have created a hotline number for patients who have questions about their care: 801-587-5852. In addition, we are posting information and updates on our website. Patients can also email us at andrology@hsc.utah.edu.

Q: How will you keep patients informed?

A: We have set up a hotline number for patients who have questions about their care. That number is 801-587-5852. In addition, we are posting information and updates on our website at www.communitylabfacts.org.

Q: Where can I get more information?

A: Individuals with questions can call 801-587-5852 for more information or to schedule a consultation. We will also continue to update this website with further information as it becomes available.

Q: If I’m concerned and want my child tested, do I need his/her consent?

A: Yes. The University has contracted with the national laboratory TestMe DNA to conduct this testing on our behalf.  Information about the company is available online at http://testmedna.com. The laboratory is not owned or affiliated with the University of Utah. Our contract with the laboratory requires that any paternity testing of individuals over 18 years of age be done with full consent of those being tested. We believe this requirement is appropriate and meets the important ethical responsibility we have to our patients.

Q: I used or was conceived with anonymous donor sperm. I’d like information on my sperm donor.  Where can I obtain this?

A: Sperm donors donate under the expectation of maintaining their anonymity, which limits any information available sperm banks can disclose about them.  Sperm banks typically provide profiles about the sperm donor during the selection process, but this would be the only information available regarding the sperm donor and his identity.