Grassley Expands Investigation of Organ Transplant Centers
Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) plans to expand an investigation into problems at organ transplant centers nationwide to include a liver transplant program at the University of California-Irvine Medical Center in Orange, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Grassley launched the investigation this fall after St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles suspended and subsequently closed an organ transplant program over concerns that physicians misappropriated an organ in violation of national standards. UCI closed the liver transplant program in November after CMS announced that Medicare would no longer cover transplants performed at the hospital because the facility did not perform an adequate number to ensure proficiency.
Grassley has questioned whether the Health Resources and Services Administration or the United Network for Organ Sharing, which administers the U.S. organ procurement and distribution system under a contract with the federal government, "did anything to ensure that those patients had the same chance to receive a liver transplant as other patients on the wait list" at other hospitals. In addition, Grassley on Tuesday wrote a letter to Elizabeth Duke, administrator HRSA about UCI.
David Bowman, a spokesperson for HRSA, said that the agency would attempt to address the concerns Grassley raised in the letter "very soon."
UNOS officials said that the organization has cooperated with the Grassley investigation (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 12/1).