UPMC's transplant program put on probation

Pittsburgh-based UPMC's organ transplant program has been put on probation by the United Network for Organ Sharing and the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network for not following transplant protocols.

Probation status is "a public designation of an OPTN/UNOS member that is executing a corrective action plan for noncompliance with OTPN policies or bylaws, or a serious lapse in patient safety or quality of care."

In this case, the organizations found UPMC's lung transplant program repeatedly accepted lungs for one transplant candidate and then transplanted another candidate at the hospital without considering a wider pool of candidates first.

UPMC's lung transplant program will continue to operate while on probation, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but it must notify patients of its status. The program has put a corrective plan in place, but details on the plan were not reported.

However, UPMC officials have characterized the problem as a misunderstanding of protocol. "As healthcare providers dedicated to saving lives, we would never intentionally deviate from UNOS guidelines for organ acceptance," Jonathan D'Cunha, MD, surgical director of the program, told the Post-Gazette.

He said that UPMC stopped the practice immediately after learning that UNOS disapproved of it.

This is not the first time UPMC's transplant program has been on probation: In 2011, UNOS put it on probation after a disease was transferred via a kidney from a donor to a recipient, according to the Post-Gazette. All total, eight transplant centers have been on probation since 2006.

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