U.K. ignores physicians' call for presumed consent organ donation

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Feb. 9, 2004

Print  |   Email  |   Respond  |   Reprints  |   Like Facebook  |   Share Twitter  |   Tweet Linkedin

Despite a plea from the British Medical Assn., provisions for allowing a "presumed consent" organ donation policy were not added to the Human Tissues Bill now before the United Kingdom House of Commons.

Under presumed-consent policies, organs can be removed from suitable donors without permission unless the patients previously had registered their objections to being an organ donor. Dr. Michael Wilks, chair of the BMA Ethics Committee, called the decision to not pursue presumed consent "wasting an opportunity."

"The BMA supports a 'soft' system of presumed consent in which relatives' views are also taken into account," he said in a press release. "The crucial difference would be in the approach to relatives. Instead of being asked to consent to donation, they would be informed that their relative had not opted out of donation."

The donation would proceed unless the relatives said they knew the patient wouldn't want to donate or if the donation would cause the family "major distress," Dr. Wilks said.

Spain, which has the highest organ donation rates in the world, has a presumed-consent policy, but U.K. Health Minister Rosie Winterton said other policies contribute to that success.

"Evidence from Spain ... has shown that having a person responsible for identifying possible organ donors in the hospital is the most effective way of increasing donors," Winterton said in a press release.

Note: This item originally appeared at

Back to top



Read story

Confronting bias against obese patients

Medical educators are starting to raise awareness about how weight-related stigma can impair patient-physician communication and the treatment of obesity. Read story

Read story


American Medical News is ceasing publication after 55 years of serving physicians by keeping them informed of their rapidly changing profession. Read story

Read story

Policing medical practice employees after work

Doctors can try to regulate staff actions outside the office, but they must watch what they try to stamp out and how they do it. Read story

Read story

Diabetes prevention: Set on a course for lifestyle change

The YMCA's evidence-based program is helping prediabetic patients eat right, get active and lose weight. Read story

Read story

Medicaid's muddled preventive care picture

The health system reform law promises no-cost coverage of a lengthy list of screenings and other prevention services, but some beneficiaries still might miss out. Read story

Read story

How to get tax breaks for your medical practice

Federal, state and local governments offer doctors incentives because practices are recognized as economic engines. But physicians must know how and where to find them. Read story

Read story

Advance pay ACOs: A down payment on Medicare's future

Accountable care organizations that pay doctors up-front bring practice improvements, but it's unclear yet if program actuaries will see a return on investment. Read story

Read story

Physician liability: Your team, your legal risk

When health care team members drop the ball, it's often doctors who end up in court. How can physicians improve such care and avoid risks? Read story

  • Stay informed
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • LinkedIn