While the overall risk of significant donor-transmitted infectious disease remains low, timely and effective communication of potential transmission events can help avert or minimize infection in recipients. In a study appearing in the January 2015 issue of the American Journal of Transplantation, researchers from the OPTN/UNOS Ad Hoc Disease Transmission Advisory Committee (DTAC) and UNOS staff examined the effect of communication on the outcome of potential donor–transmitted infectious disease events.
In reviewing 56 reported incidents of potential donor-derived transmission events over a period of 30 months, the researchers found that 18 of those events involved some form of communications gap (a delay of longer than three days in reporting the information to the recipient transplant center, or an error in reporting). In 12 of the events associated with a communications gap (involving a total 29 transplant recipients), at least one recipient experienced some form of adverse event, including 6 recipient deaths. Conversely, in the majority of reported events that did not have a communications delay or error, recipients received timely treatment that minimized or prevented infection.
Multiple efforts are underway to reduce the likelihood of communications gaps and thus improve treatment of affected recipients. These include OPTN policy revisions implemented in 2011 to better identify contacts for urgent communication, as well as analysis being conducted by an OPTN work group to identify ways to improve communication of new information about organ donors obtained post-transplant. In addition, national and international organizations are sponsoring educational efforts to help clinicians better recognize and communicate the potential for donor-derived disease transmission.
NOTE: This study was supported in part by Health Resources and Services Administration contract 234-2005-37011C. The content is the responsibility of the authors alone and does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Health and Human Services.
For more detailed information, please consult the article (UNOS staff members identified with an asterisk):
R. Miller, S. Covington*, S. Taranto*, R. Carrico*, A. Ehsan, B. Friedman, M. Green, M.G. Ison, D. Kaul, B. Kubiak, D.J. Lebovitz, G.M. Lyon, M.A. Nalesnik, T.L. Pruett, L. Teperman, B. Vadusev, E. Blumberg. Communications Gaps Associated with Donor Derived Infections. American Journal of Transplantation, Vol. 15, Issue 1, January 2015, pp. 259-264.