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Are potential organ donors missed on general wards? A 6-month audit of hospital deaths

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In the decade to 2008, the deceased donor and organ transplant rates in Australia failed to increase in line with population growth, and there was little change in the number of patients needing organ transplantation.1 In response to this, the Australian Government set out the National Reform Programme, comprising nine measures to establish the world’s best practice in organ and tissue donation.2

An important part of the national approach is the DonateLife Audit, which aims to report on all actual and potential organ donation activity: donor identification, request and consent rates; reasons why donation does not proceed; and missed donation opportunities. Data are collected on all deaths of patients aged between 28 days and 80 years in the emergency department (ED) and intensive care unit (ICU) (or on the wards if discharged from the ED or ICU in the previous 24 hours) and deaths of any other patient when organ donation is considered.

Royal Prince Alfred Hospital has been contributing to the DonateLife Audit since its inception, and we believe that we miss very few potential organ donors from EDs and ICUs. The DonateLife Audit does not, however, consider whether potential organ donors on the general wards who have not been recently discharged from the ICU or ED have been missed.

The success of organ donation programs is defined by the rate of deceased…