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JAMA. 2009 May 13;301(18):1902-8. doi: 10.1001/jama.2009.637.

Policies on donation after cardiac death at children's hospitals: a mixed-methods analysis of variation.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, UT 84113, USA.



Although authoritative bodies have promulgated guidelines for donation after cardiac death (DCD) and the Joint Commission requires hospitals to address DCD, little is known about actual hospital policies.


To characterize DCD policies in children's hospitals and evaluate variation among policies.


Mixed-methods analysis of policies collected between November 2007 and January 2008 from hospitals in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada in 2 membership categories of the National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions.


Status of DCD policy development and content of the policies based on coding categories developed in part from authoritative statements.


One hundred five of 124 eligible hospitals responded, a response rate of 85%. Seventy-six institutions (72%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 64%-82%) had DCD policies, 20 (19%; 95% CI, 12%-28%) were developing policies; and 7 (7%; 95% CI, 3%-14%) neither had nor were developing policies. We received and analyzed 73 unique, approved policies. Sixty-one policies (84%; 95% CI, 73%-91%) specify criteria or tests for declaring death. Four policies require total waiting periods prior to organ recovery at variance with professional guidelines: 1 less than 2 minutes and 3 longer than 5 minutes. Sixty-four policies (88%; 95% CI, 78%-94%) preclude transplant personnel from declaring death and 37 (51%; 95% CI, 39%-63%) prohibit them from involvement in premortem management. While 65 policies (89%; 95% CI, 80%-95%) indicate the importance of palliative care, only 5 (7%; 95% CI, 2%-15%) recommend or require palliative care consultation. Of 68 policies that indicate where withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment can or should take place, 37 policies (54%; 95% CI, 42%-67%) require it to occur in the operating room and 3 policies (4%; 95% CI, 1%-12%) require it to occur in the intensive care unit.


Most children's hospitals have developed or are developing DCD policies. There is, however, considerable variation among policies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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