Background The latest version of the Liverpool Care Pathway directs staff to confirm whether or not the dying patient has previously expressed a wish to donate organs. Staff require basic knowledge of organ and tissue donation to be able to answer any questions that may arise as a result of such a discussion.
Aims The study aims to explore the knowledge hospice staff have of organ and tissue donation.
Methods A questionnaire based on the knowledge and attitude questionnaire developed by Vitris1 was mailed to all hospice doctors, nurses and healthcare assistants. Staff were then invited to participate in focus groups so their knowledge could be explored in greater depth.
Results 76/94 questionnaires were completed. 35/76 people who replied had known someone who had needed an organ donation. Most (93%) staff realised that patients with metastatic malignant disease could donate their corneas for transplantation and some also thought that these patients could donate heart valves (13/76) and bones (10/76). Staff were less sure about what patients dying of non-malignant disease could donate. 39/76 people realised that the corneas needed to be retrieved within 24 h of death. 20/76 were unsure whether the procedure would cause disfiguration. Only 24/76 people realised that a patients' family can override the patients' wishes to donate.
Conclusions This study has identified gaps in hospice workers knowledge of organ and tissue donation. This may be a contributing factor to why the subject is not routinely discussed at LOROS and very few patients donate.
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