Kidney and liver transplants stop at Penn State Health

The transplant program was halted after a two-day inspection in early May prompted by a complaint. The program has been inactive since April.

HERSHEY, Pa. — Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center stopped performing kidney and liver transplants after the state health department and federal agencies discovered several issues with its program.

The transplant program was halted after a two-day inspection in early May prompted by a complaint. According to spokeswoman Barbara Schindo, the program has been inactive since April.

Following the inspection, a report was produced on the problems observed with the program.

A problem detailed in the report is that staff did not acknowledge and investigate six incidents of patients who had just received transplants having to return to the operating room due to medical issues. When these incidents occur, staff are expected to analyze the transplant process to look for ways to modify it.

The report goes on to detail two separate incidents where patients were not informed that they were being offered “high risk” organs; in such cases, receiving these organs may put patients at higher risk for organ failure or hepatitis or HIV transmission. This, according to the inspectors, violates the process called “informed consent” where patients are given the opportunity to refuse such organs. In one of those cases, the patient was told about their new high-risk organ during a follow-up appointment, according to the report.

The kidney and liver transplant program is further criticized in the report for not notifying the United Network for Organ Sharing and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of significant personnel changes.

According to Schindo, Penn State Health has notified about 1,100 patients of the closure, including about 200 on its waiting lists for kidney or liver transplants, and is offering assistance for those who wish to move to another transplant center.

Penn State Health voluntarily and temporarily halted the program, also according to Schindo, who says the medical center has since “engaged an experienced outside third party to conduct a thorough review” of the abdominal transplant program, which includes liver and kidney transplants. .

“UNOS and external reviews determined that, while our clinical outcomes were on par with other transplant programs, we have opportunities for structural and operational improvements that will improve the program,” Schindo said in a statement provided. at FOX43. “Subsequent CMS and DOH reviews of our program revealed similar opportunities for improvement and regulatory compliance.”

She says the medical center has also taken steps to address the issues listed above, including developing comprehensive action plans which were submitted to the CMS in mid-July and were accepted. These plans, she says, were later audited by the DOH who later confirmed that they had been successfully implemented.

“As we continue to work with UNOS to reactivate the program, our focus remains first and foremost on the needs and well-being of our patients and their families,” Schindo added in his statement. “Our transplant patients receive regular updates, and Hershey Medical Center continues to provide post-transplant care to the hundreds of kidney and liver patients currently served.”

Schindo also said the shutdown of the abdominal transplant program at Hershey Medical Center does not affect other Penn State Health transplant programs, including stem cell and bone marrow transplant programs and the heart transplant program.

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