Performance Improvement 2004. The Breakthrough Donation Practices Study: Best Practices Final Report


This study is the most recent component of U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy G. Thompson’s Gift of Life Donation initiative, which addresses the widening gap between the supply and demand for organs and tissues. The purpose of the study is to generate significant, measurable increases in organ donation by helping the national community of organ procurement organizations (OPOs) and hospitals to quickly identify, learn, adapt, replicate, and celebrate “breakthrough” practices associated with higher donation rates. The Lewin Group pursued a qualitative case study approach to identify the best practices. The study called for an expert panel to identify hospital and OPO practices that were most likely associated with increased conversion. In January 2003, the study was based on new, available data that brought sharper focus on OPOs and hospitals with outstanding organ donor practices; 6 OPOs and 16 hospitals with conversion rates higher than the national mean. Based on these visits, interviews, and face-to-face discussions, the investigators identified a set of principles associated with higher rates of organ donation: 1) Integrating organ donation fully into routine roles and responsibilities, 2) setting high standards for donation performance to reduce the unacceptable shortage of life saving organs, 3) involving OPO and hospital staff in ongoing standards setting and redesign of means to achieve these standards, 4) holding OPOs, hospitals and their staff accountable for achieving these standards and recognizing their staff accordingly, 5) establish, maintain, and revitalize a network of interpersonal relationships and trust involving OPO and hospital staff, donor families, and other key agents, 6) collaborate to meet the range of needs of potential donor families and achieve informed consent to donate, and 7) conduct ongoing data collection and feedback to drive decision making toward performance improvement. The results of this study led to Secretary Thompson’s formation of the Organ Donation Breakthrough Collaborative, whose intention is to spread the practices of large hospitals and OPOs with high donation rates to other hospitals wanting to improve their own donation practices. Successful practices will eventually be expanded to 800 other large U.S. hospitals, where 90 percent of all eligible donors are located.

PIC ID: 7288
Agency Sponsor: HRSA-OSP, Office of Special Programs
Federal Contact: Wagner, Dennis, 301-443-0625
Performer: The Lewin Group, Falls Church, VA

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