Organ, Eye, and Tissue Donation

August 24, 2023 | Health System Risk Management

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Organ, eye, and tissue transplant is a crucial means of improving and prolonging quality of life. However, despite aggressive public campaigning and steadily increasing donation rates, organ availability still falls short of demand; more than 100,000 people are waiting for lifesaving organ transplants, and 17 people die each day while waiting for a transplant. (1) Understanding the role that healthcare providers play in donation can help risk managers and patient safety officers ensure that organizational policies and procedures adequately support providers, donors, and recipients through the donation and transplant process. Contractual relationships with organ procurement organizations (OPOs) must also be effectively maintained to facilitate safety and quality assurance and to comply with regulatory requirements.

This article provides an overview of current donation trends (see Donation Fast Facts​), relevant legal and regulatory requirements, donation communication best practices—including informed consent—and additional considerations for optimizing a health system's organ, eye, and tissue donation program.

Many government agencies and professional societies and organizations offer standard procedures and protocols to minimize patient safety risk.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS Conditions of Participation (CoPs) require hospitals to have written policies and procedures that address their organ donation and transplant program, including its contractual relationship with OPOs and eye/tissue banks. See 42 CFR §482.45 for more details. ...

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