Policy keeps patients safe, protects medical urgency status

Policy keeps patients safe, protects medical urgency status

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While used infrequently, the new policy enabled transplant programs to reduce COVID-19 exposure for their waitlist candidates.

Waitlist candidates benefited from an emergency COVID-19 policy allowing programs to carry forward previous test results.

An emergency policy action passed in March by the Executive Committee of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network allowed transplant programs to carry forward waitlist candidates’ most recent set of test results if the candidates were unable to get new tests completed due to the pandemic.

While utilized for small percentage of waitlist registrations, the action helped programs protect candidates from unnecessary COVID-19 exposure and kept them in the appropriate medical urgency status.

Between the weeks of March 16 and May 25, the policy:

  • May have protected up to 823 waitlist registrations, including:
    • 734 adult liver and 21 pediatric liver candidates
    • 67 adult lung candidates
    • One adult heart candidate
  • Was used for a small percentage of waitlist registrations each week, including:
    • Two-to-seven percent of all adult liver candidates and zero to 16 percent of all pediatric liver candidates
    • Four to 14 percent of adult lung candidates

Note: These are maximum counts. It is possible that labs were redone and returned the same lab values.

Periodically medical and lab test results are required to maintain current medical urgency status for liver, lung and heart transplant candidates.

The emergency OPTN policy action allowed transplant programs to refresh candidate clinical data with data obtained through previous testing in order to maintain current waitlist priority. This policy prevented candidates who could not undergo routine testing due to the COVID-19 crisis from being adversely affected on the waitlist. UNOS staff collaborated with members to quickly adapt the system to make it easier for transplants to happen, given the challenges during the pandemic.

View the “Summary of COVID-19 emergency operational and IT modifications” slides that were presented to the Executive Committee of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network Board of Directors on June 7.

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