Lawmakers: Increased Organ Transplant Oversight Needed
Assembly Health Committee members on Tuesday said the state might have to adopt stricter laws for organ transplant programs, such as imposing fines against hospitals, after scandals closed three transplant programs in the past year, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Lawmakers at the hearing focused on problems that led to the closure of the liver transplant programs at St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles and the University of California-Irvine Medical Center, and the kidney transplant program at Kaiser Permanente in Northern California. The panel also considered the University of Southern California University Hospital's liver transplant program in Los Angeles.
A committee background report on the problems stated, "It has become apparent that there is no central agency responsible for receiving and monitoring complaints from patients in this state." Committee members questioned why regulators did not know about serious problems in the programs before the media reported them.
Assembly member Patty Berg (D-Eureka) said the hearing was "a call to action at all levels to make improvements to the system and restore faith in the organ procurement and transplantation system."
Some lawmakers said the transplant system reforms should be a priority when the next legislative session begins.
David Magnus, director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics at Stanford University, said similar problems likely exist at transplant programs in other states, but the "rigorous actions of the media" have brought them to light in California (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 8/16).