Let one patient skip to top of waiting list; rightful recipient dies
LOS ANGELES, California (AP) — St. Vincent Medical Center received a rebuke from the national organ-donation network for allowing a patient to skip to the top of the waiting list for a new liver in 2003, bypassing others who were sicker.
It was the first time the United Network for Organ Sharing publicly sanctioned a member.
"It sends a message about the overall importance of patient safety and regard for the public health," the network’s executive director, Walter Graham, said Thursday.
St. Vincent admitted in September that its doctors had improperly arranged for a Saudi man to receive a liver intended for a higher-priority patient. Federal inspectors also found that the hospital removed the rightful recipient from the waiting list without telling him that it was doing so. The man later died.
The rebuke requires the hospital to alert about 4,000 of its patients about the discipline, but it doesn’t prevent it from performing other organ transplants or taking on new patients. Graham said the network stopped short of asking the federal government to suspend St. Vincent’s other transplant programs because it didn’t think patients were in imminent danger.
St. Vincent issued a statement saying it would challenge the sanction in court. The hospital, which closed its liver transplant program in November, argued the action was unjustified because it is now complying with transplant rules in its heart, kidney and pancreas programs.
Most private insurers have already removed St. Vincent from their lists of preferred providers or stopped referring patients there.
Unless you’re a Saudi.