Serial: The Retrievals - Ep. 1: The Patients (full season)
December 23, 2023 10:26 PM - Subscribe

Patients at a fertility clinic experience excruciating, unexpected pain. For months the reason for that pain remains hidden. Then they get a letter from the clinic.

The patients in this story came to the Yale Fertility Center to pursue pregnancy. They began their I.V.F. cycles full of expectation and hope. Then a surgical procedure called egg retrieval caused them excruciating pain.

Some of the patients screamed out in the procedure room. Others called the clinic from home to report pain in the hours that followed. But most of the staff members who fielded the patients’ reports did not know the real reason for the pain, which was that a nurse at the clinic was stealing fentanyl and replacing it with saline.

From Serial Productions and The New York Times, The Retrievals is a five-part narrative series reported by Susan Burton, a veteran staff member at “This American Life” and author of the memoir “Empty.”

Burton details the events that unfolded at the clinic, and examines how the patients’ distinct identities informed the way they made sense of what happened to them in the procedure room. The nurse, too, has her own story, about her own pain, that she tells to the court. And then there is the story of how this all could have happened at the Yale clinic in the first place.

Throughout, Burton explores the stories we tell about women’s pain. How do we tolerate, interpret and account for it? What happens when pain is minimized or dismissed?
posted by bq (2 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This one hurts, because there are so many echoes in the way women’s pain is routinely minimized.

I had ivf. I did not feel any pain during my retrieval. I did, however, have a different fertility procedure done without any pain medication that hurt so much I fainted after it was over. Luckily I was still sitting on the table so I didn’t hit the floor.

I was shocked at the sentence. I asked my husband to guess what Donna’ sentence was….he guessed ‘life in prison’. Not even any community service? Really? I’m all for restorative justice, but how was anything restored here?
posted by bq at 10:30 PM on December 23, 2023 [3 favorites]

I was shocked, too. Monticone pled guilty to one count of tampering with a consumer product, & was ordered to serve three years of supervised release, four weekends of incarceration, and three months of home confinement. (She was also made to surrender her nursing license.) How is that sentence possible, when so many patients suffered?!

Dozens of them sued; the investigation revealed that about 75 percent of the fentanyl given to patients at the Yale REI clinic from June - October 2020 was adulterated with saline. Around November 1, Monticone brought approximately 175 vials of fentanyl that she had taken from Yale and discarded them in waste containers at the clinic. The related civil investigation identified 685 separate occasions in which the record-keeping requirements of the Controlled Substances Act were allegedly violated by Yale, and Yale paid a mere $308,250 to resolve the allegations.
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:51 PM on December 27, 2023 [1 favorite]

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