Wednesday, October 25, 2006

L.A. Times criticizes transplant system oversight

An investigative report published by the Los Angeles Times on October 22nd criticizes the United Network for Organ Sharing. UNOS operates the national organ allocation system in the United States. According to the report, UNOS "often fails to detect or decisively fix problems at derelict hospitals — even when patients are dying at excessive rates." The report describes what it calls a "national pattern of uneven and often weak oversight" and says that at times UNOS "appears more intent on protecting hospitals than patients."

We can expect calls for improved oversight of compliance with UNOS policies. But those policies themselves also need improvement. Specifically, UNOS should allocate organs first to registered organ donors. This simple policy change would cause a large increase in the number of organs available for transplantation in the United States, and thousands of lives would be saved every year.

Problems at transplant hospitals would also be easier to spot if there were more organs to transplant.

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