German organ scandal: Eurotransplant welcomes announcement of stricter controls
LEIDEN, the Netherlands: The board of Eurotransplant, a non-profit organisation responsible for the allocation of donor organs in Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Slovenia, has welcomed the actions introduced in Germany to increase the transparency of organ allocation. These were announced after suspicion arose regarding allocations at the university hospitals in Göttingen and Regensburg.
On 27 August, the Federal Minister of Health, Daniel Bahr, met with government and health association representatives to discuss the events at the transplantation centres in Göttingen and Regensburg. Together with the presidents of Eurotransplant and the German Transplant Association, the board of the German Organ Transplantation Foundation and a patient representative of the federal government, they consulted on future measures.
In a statement by the Ministry of Health published shortly after the meeting, it was announced that owing to the findings from Göttingen and Regensburg, among other things, all transplant centres are currently being checked for any irregularities. In the future, an examining body will conduct comprehensive, unannounced spot checks in all centres. It was also announced that at an interdisciplinary transplant conference all transplant centres will decide on criteria for admission to the waiting list and management thereof. It is planned to incorporate a medical specialty that is not related to transplantation and that reports directly to the medical director of the clinic.
In addition, the representatives and experts want to achieve greater transparency in the allocation of organs. Thus, activity reports of the inspection and monitoring committees shall be made available to the public regularly. Those reports shall be presented annually at a press conference. However, personal data and sensitive operational and business information will be treated as confidential.
It was also announced that from 1 November 2012 people will be able to report (anonymously if desired) irregularities and violations in hospitals with regard to transplantation law to an authority established by the examining body.
In a press release, Netherlands-based Eurotransplant welcomed the announcement of the increase in transparency and the strengthening of controls. The representatives of the board had been concerned about the events in Germany and feared that the 45-year collaboration based on solidarity and trust could be harmed.
Meanwhile, it seems that there may be a further reason for increased transparency and tougher controls on organ allocation. There have been reports in the German media about suspicions that privately insured patients have been preferred to public health patients in organ allocation.