NHSBT Best Practice Guide


NHSBT Best Practice Guidance on approaching the family of a potential organ donor

NHSBT has recently commissioned a Best Practice Guidance that compliments the recommendations from NICE. This guidance advises that whilst there may be occasions when a consultant may have to request alone, that as a standard of best practice the family approach should be a collaborative effort between senior medical staff and the specialist nurse for organ donation.

There are three key stages to the family approach (see the Three Stages diagram below):

  • planning
  • confirming understanding and acceptance of loss
  • discussing donation

The three stages of the family approach.

Click here for more info about Planning
Click here for more info about Confirmation
Click here for more info about Discussing
Wherever possible the SN-OD should be involved in all three stages.

It is important that there is agreement in advance on who will cover each element of the process and where the transition in responsibility will be. A common approach would be for the Consultant, ICU nurse and SN-OD to meet the family together, and for the Consultant to lead on breaking bad news and to then invite in the specialist nurse to take over when it is clear that the family have accepted the inevitability of their loss and are ready to consider what may happen next. The transition to the specialist nurse should be delayed if it is clear that the family have not come to terms with the death of their loved one. To download a copy of this Best Practice Guidance, click here. Improvement of the consent and authorisation rates is rightly seen as a key priority in efforts to increase donor numbers. Interventions that might result in an increase in these rates fall into one of three categories:
  • promotion of the benefits of donation and transplantation with the general public
  • alteration to the legislative framework for donation
  • more effective requesting, with greater focus on how donation is raised with the family of a potential donor

To download a copy of the NHSBT Best Practice Guidance please click here.

The Organ Donor Register is checked for each referral and can be checked by:
  • Specialist Nurse Organ Donation
  • Any other healthcare professional, by phoning the NHS Blood and Transplant Duty Office on 0117 9757580 or 0117 9757581
Information needed to check the Organ Donor Register is:
  • Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Address including Post code or NHS / Community Health Index No.
The Duty Office may phone back via Hospital switchboard to confirm identity and location of caller.

If required, the Duty Office can fax a copy of the Organ Donor Register entry to the donating Unit, in order to facilitate conversations with family members.

Next section: Donation After Brain-stem Death

Best Practice Guidance:

Approaching Families Best Practive thumbnail

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