Ethical Controversies in Organ Donation

A review of the literature

The lecture duration is 49min.

1 CPD Point, 1 CEU, 1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit.
Accredited by CPDUK, CBRN and EB Medicine.

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George Skowronski
Associate Professor of Intensive Care Medicine, Australia
Lecture Summary

Traditional ideas around the meaning of death have been altered irrevocably by technological advances from the mid-20th century. Modern definitions of death are problematic both technically and conceptually and have been subjected to numerous legal challenges, especially in the USA. Studies by a number of groups, including our own, suggest that family decisions about organ donation place the most importance on prognosis and consent, rather than the presence of death. Some authors have suggested that, contrary to what is assumed, principles such as the ‘Dead Donor Rule’ serve mainly to provide comfort for participating doctors, and are ethically unnecessary. Organ donation and the diagnosis of death remain ethically controversial in the 21st century.

Target Audience

Critical Care Doctors
Experienced or advanced Critical Care Nurses

Learning Objectives:

Upon completion of this activity, you should be able to:

  • Understand the ethical pitfalls surrounding the diagnosis of death in the context of organ donation
  • Understand the basis of some of the main legal challenges to the concept of brain death
  • Recognise the ethical limitations of the ‘Dead Donor Rule’ in organ donation
  • Understand that the main considerations for families contemplating organ donation are prognosis and consent rather than the presence of death

This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint providership of EB Medicine and Continulus. EB Medicine is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

Credit Designation

EB Medicine designates this internet-enduring material for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Needs Assessment

The need for this educational activity was determined by surveys of the target audience and experts in the specialty. Further assessment was provided by examining the topics of recently published evidence-based medicine reviews, national clinical guidelines, and specialty society recommendations, as well as suggestions from evaluations of previous learning programs to determine practice gaps.

CME Faculty Disclosure

It is the policy of EB Medicine to ensure objectivity, balance, independence, transparency, and scientific rigor in all CME-sponsored educational activities. All faculty participating in the planning or implementation of a sponsored activity are expected to disclose to the audience any relevant financial relationships and to assist in resolving any conflict of interest that may arise from the relationship. In compliance with all ACCME accreditation requirements and policies, all faculty for this CME activity were asked to complete a full disclosure statement. The speaker did not report any relevant financial interest or other relationship with the manufacturer(s) of any commercial product(s) discussed in this educational presentation.

Earning Credit

In order to earn CME credit, the participant must take the pre-test, watch the course, take the CME post-test, and complete the post-test evaluation.

Hardware/Software Requirements

Online learners will need a computer or web-enabled device to access the podcast, additional learning materials, and CME test.

Commercial Support

This activity received no commercial support.