Hospital Turns Down Organ Donations, Despite Need Among Patients
More than 30 patients at the University of California-Irvine Medical Center died awaiting liver transplants after the hospital turned down organ donations because of staffing shortages, according to a CMS report, the Los Angeles Times reports.
According to the Aug. 5 report, which recently was obtained by the Times, UCIMC received 122 liver offers between August 2004 and July 2005, but only 12 were transplanted, including two livers to the same patient because the first one failed. The report finds that, for the past three years, the hospital has not met federal requirements for organ transplants, which require 12 transplants to be performed annually. From 2002 to 2004, eight transplants were performed each year.
In addition, 68.6% of patients who received a liver at the hospital between January 2002 and June 2004 lived for at least one year following transplantation; a 77% survival rate is required for federal certification, the report stated.
The report also found that although federal requirements stipulate that a transplant surgeon must be constantly available at the hospital, a liver transplant surgeon "was nowhere in the immediate vicinity of the hospital" during inspections July 19 and July 20. During those two days, a patient in the hospital was "on the highest priority list for transplantation should a liver be available," according to the report.
The report indicates that the problems at UCIMC "existed for years," the Times reports.
During the past year, the hospital often said it was rejecting donations because of poor quality of the organs, but the livers were accepted by other hospitals and transplanted into other patients, according to Thomas Mone, CEO of the organ procurement agency OneLegacy.
UCIMC officials on Wednesday would not address specific allegations in the report but said the center is working to improve the program. David Imagawa, who has overseen the liver transplant program since July, said the hospital has recruited a full-time transplant surgeon who is slated to start next year. In the meantime, part-time surgeons will continue performing transplants (Ornstein/Zarembo, Los Angeles Times, 11/10).