Pancreas Transplant Program Placed on Probation
The United Network for Organ Sharing on Wednesday placed Sharp Memorial Hospital on probation after the hospital did not notify UNOS that its pancreas transplant program was inactive for at least six months, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. UNOS oversees the nation's organ transplant network (Clark, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/21).
According to UNOS, the hospital did not perform a pancreas transplant between April 2005 and July 2006, although the program's wait list increased (Ornstein/Weber, Los Angeles Times, 9/21).
Sharp CEO Dan Gross said the program was inactive between April 2005 and July 2006 after a surgeon in the program was called up for active military duty (San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/21). Gross said the hospital began looking to hire a new surgeon after it became clear that the surgeon would not soon return to Sharp Memorial.
Gross said that patients on the pancreas waiting list were not notified of the situation because another surgeon or staff member could have performed the transplants. However, Gross acknowledged that two donated pancreases had to be turned down because no surgeon was available to perform the operations (Los Angeles Times, 9/21).
A new surgeon was hired in December, but UNOS did not approve the surgeon until July, according to Gross and Steven Steinberg, director of the hospital's multiorgan transplant program.
UNOS is requiring Sharp Memorial to notify patients on its pancreas waiting list that the program "is currently served by a single surgeon."
The hospital may continue performing kidney, pancreas and heart transplants, but it must increase its reporting to UNOS about transplants and survival rates (San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/21). All transplant programs at the hospital will remain on probation until it can be proven that problems within the pancreas program have been corrected, according to UNOS President Sue McDiarmid (Los Angeles Times, 9/21).