Yale-New Haven Hospital Arielle Levin Becker / CTMirror.org

Seven former patients at a Yale fertility clinic have launched a new lawsuit against the university — in the latest turn in a high-profile scandal involving fentanyl theft and excruciatingly painful procedures for patients who were told they were getting painkillers, but wound up being operated on sober.

That lawsuit was filed on Tuesday by seven plaintiffs who had previously received treatment at the Yale Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Clinic (REI). Click here to read the full lawsuit. 

The law firm Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder is representing these seven new plaintiffs, as well as the 68 other patients who have taken legal action against the clinic. 

Wednesday’s plaintiffs attended either the New Haven or the Orange location of the REI Clinic, and while they underwent varying procedures, all are claiming that they experienced unbearable pain during invasive operations due to a lack of proper pain medication and anesthesia.

The plaintiffs also claim that Yale did not notify the patients after learning that a nurse was stealing fentanyl from the clinic and replacing vials with saline solution. It wasn’t until the popular New York Times / Serial podcast ​“The Retrievals” about the experience of patients at the REI Clinic released during this summer that some plaintiffs realized the alleged reason for their ​“excruciating” pain. 

Due to Yale’s status as a mega-employer of healthcare workers in Connecticut and the fact of two previous instances of opioid misuse by Yale clinicians, the filed complaint states, ​“Yale University failed to implement the most basic, legally mandated, steps to prevent opioid diversion.” 

Yale is facing 75 counts, including Medical Assault and Battery, Fraudulent Nondisclosure/Misrepresentation, and Medical Negligence, per this latest lawsuit. The plaintiffs are claiming compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs. 

Yale has already paid $308,250 in a September 2022 civil settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice due to violations of the Controlled Substances Act. 

In a comment provided to the Independent for this article, Yale spokesperson Karen Peart said that Yale took all the necessary steps after learning of the fentanyl substitution, including terminating the nurse in question and contacting the authorities. She stated that Yale has since instituted additional measures and safeguards, including ​“training and enhanced management systems.” 

While the plaintiffs allege that malpractice occurred as early as 2019, Peart stated that the federal Department of Justice’s investigation did not yield evidence that the former nurse stole opioids beyond June 2020 to October 2020. 

This story was first published Oct. 10, 2023 by New Haven Independent.