“Avoidable errors” led to organ donor mistake

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“Avoidable errors” led to organ donor mistake

21st October 2010

An independent review has concluded that avoidable errors led to the wrong organs being removed from 25 donors.

The Government-ordered review revealed that computer error led to mistakes in the way information was transferred from one government agency to another. The report, by Sir Gordon Duff, said faulty data conversion software had been used by UK Transplant when uploading data on donation wishes from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) when it moved to a new computer system in 1999.

Daniel Lee, Head of Clinical Negligence with Fentons Solicitors LLP, said the error occurred when transferring information from the DVLA application form, which includes a section where people can register their wish to become an organ donor.

"This mistake came to light earlier this year, when the NHS Blood and Transplant organisation wrote to newly registered donors thanking them for joining the register and outlining what organs they had agreed to donate," said Daniel. "When people began complaining the information was wrong an investigation was launched."

NHS Blood and Transplant, which runs the organ donation register, was able to correct 400,000 of the flawed records.

"The report states that in the cases where organs were removed, families were asked for permission, but their decisions were based on misinformation about the wishes of their relatives," said Daniel. "Donors can give permission for any of their organs to be taken, or can specify which organs they wish to give.

Many have strong views about what should be removed, with consent frequently withheld for eyes to be donated, or bodies to be used in medical research."

The review praised NHS Blood and Transplant for its sensitive handling of the incident, but said errors could have been avoided if more robust procedures had been in place in 1999 when the mistake was made.

"Organ donation is a vital part of medicine, saving thousands of lives every year," said Daniel. "There are more than 17 million people currently on the register, and it is important that people who generously agree to donate their organs are reassured that the error has been dealt with effectively and that steps have been taken to minimise the risk of it happening again."

How can Fentons Solicitors help?
Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims relating to clinical and medical negligence.

If you think that you have a case or require further information, contact Fentons on 0800 019 1297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.

Source - The Guardian