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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Public policy governing organ and tissue procurement in the United States. Results from the National Organ and Tissue Procurement Study

L A Siminoff, R M Arnold, A L Caplan, B A Virnig, D L Seltzer
Annals of Internal Medicine 1995 July 1, 123 (1): 10-7
7762908

OBJECTIVE: To determine why Required Request policies, which mandate that hospitals request donation from donor-eligible families, have not resulted in increased organ procurement.

SETTING: Stratified sample of 23 acute-care general hospitals in two metropolitan areas.

DESIGN: Chart review identified all eligible donors in study hospitals during a 20-month period. Health care professionals who spoke with the families of eligible donors after death were interviewed to determine families' and health care providers' behaviors after patients' deaths with reference to the donation process.

PARTICIPANTS: All patient deaths (n = 10,681) were reviewed, and 841 donor-eligible cases were chosen for in-depth study; 1809 health care professionals who provided care to these patients were interviewed.

MEASUREMENTS: The ability of health care providers to identify donor-eligible patients, approach families about donation, and obtain families' consent to donation.

RESULTS: 83% of health care professionals correctly identified donor-eligible patients. The families of donor-eligible patients were approached about donation in 73.0% of the cases. Families were more likely to be approached about organ (86.6%) donation than either tissue (69.5%) or cornea (67.3%) donation (P < 0.001). The families of organ-eligible patients were less likely to be approached if the patient was female, was on a general medical or surgical floor, or was being cared for by internists. Only 46.5% of families of eligible donors agreed to donate organs, 34.5% agreed to donate tissues, and 23.5% agreed to donate corneas.

CONCLUSIONS: Although health care professionals do request that families donate, families consent to donation less frequently than was previously assumed. Empirically based education campaigns are needed so that health care professionals can improve their communication skills and so that discussion about this important issue can be stimulated among family members.

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