UNOS: Unveils New System for Liver Waiting Lists
The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) appears closer to compliance with HHS regulations as the network has developed new policies for organ distribution, the AP/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. The latest proposal seems more in line with HHS' suggestion that the new allocation system would direct more livers -- the organ that "has engendered the most controversy" -- to the sickest transplant patients. Under the current system, liver patients are assigned a status depending on the severity of their illness. Status 1 patients are the sickest and expected to die within a week without a transplant, while status 2a patients are hospitalized. Status 2b and 3 patients, on the other hand, are not as sick. Within each category, patients are ranked based on how long they have been waiting, with those waiting the longest receiving the next available liver. However, the Institute of Medicine determined that "waiting time is not a good criteria, partly because some patients go on the list much earlier than others." Under UNOS' new proposal, patients in status 2b and 3 would be ranked on an objective point system based on their symptoms, such as the presence or absence of certain chemicals in their blood stream. Those with the most points would be at the top of the list. The proposal is in the public comment stage and still must be approved by UNOS' board, which intends to submit it to HHS by March 16. After the point system is developed, UNOS said it will look into creating larger allocation areas (2/17).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.