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Clin Transplant. 2012 May-Jun;26(3):E254-60. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-0012.2012.01659.x. Epub 2012 May 15.

Australian emergency doctors' and nurses' acceptance and knowledge regarding brain death: a national survey.

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Emergency Practice Innovation Centre, St Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne, Vic., Australia.


Healthcare staff's acceptance of brain death (BD) being a valid determination of death is essential for optimized organ and tissue donation (OTD) rates. Recently, resources to increase Australian OTD rates have been aimed at emergency departments (ED) as a significant missed donor potential was discovered. A cross-sectional survey was conducted to assess Australian ED clinicians' acceptance and knowledge regarding BD. Most (86%) of the 599 medical and 212 nursing staff accepted BD, but only 60% passed a 5-item-validated BD knowledge tool. BD knowledge was related to the acceptance of BD. Accepting BD influenced attitudes toward OTD, including willingness to donate. BD acceptance and knowledge were related to education/training regarding OTD, years of experience in EDs, experience with OTD-related tasks, and increased perceived competence and comfort with OTD-related tasks. Of concern, more than half of respondents who did not pass the BD test reported feeling competent and comfortable explaining BD to next of kin; of respondents who had recent experience with this, more than a third failed the BD test. Despite being generally positive toward OTD, Australian ED clinicians do not have a sound knowledge of BD. This may be hampering efforts to increase donation rates from the ED.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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