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New Study Says Doctors' Offices -- Not the DMV -- Should Be Where Americans Decide to Become Organ Donors
Date:1/11/2010

Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program -- News From Our Scholars

(Vocus) January 11, 2010 -- Primary care physicians may be able to help increase Americans' willingness to become organ donors by educating their patients on the organ donation process during routine office visits and discussions about end-of-life care, according to a study in the January issue of the Journal of the National Medical Association.

“With more than 100,000 Americans waiting for organ transplants, it is crucial that we find new ways to increase donation. New efforts should focus on improving communication on the subject between health care providers and their patients,” said lead author of the study J. Daryl Thornton, M.D., M.P.H., who conducted the research as a scholar with the Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Thornton is medical director of the Medical Intensive Care Unit at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland and an assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU). He is also a researcher at the Center for Reducing Health Disparities at MetroHealth and CWRU.

Most often, the decision about organ donation is made by individuals coping with the death of a family member. Obtaining consent for organ donation under these circumstances is complicated, sensitive, and often unsuccessful. Most individuals who are organ donors make the decision during a visit to their local departments of motor vehicles (DMV), where workers are often not fully trained to address questions about the topic.

Instead, shifting the location for requesting consent to a routine patient care setting may have an important impact on the number of organ donors, according to the study. Sixty-four percent of physicians surveyed agreed that organ donation discussions were within the scope of their medical practice, but only 4
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