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Keywords:

  • Education;
  • organ donation;
  • quality assessment;
  • qualitative research

Organ donation remains a major public health challenge with over 114 000 people on the waitlist in the United States. Among other factors, extant research highlights the need to improve the identification and timely referral of potential donors by hospital healthcare providers (HCPs) to organ procurement organizations (OPOs). We implemented a national test of the Rapid Assessment of hospital Procurement barriers in Donation (RAPiD) to identify assets and barriers to the organ donation and patient referral processes; assess hospital–OPO relationships and offer tailored recommendations for improving these processes. Having partnered with seven OPOs, data were collected at 70 hospitals with high donor potential in the form of direct observations and interviews with 2358 HCPs. We found that donation attitudes and knowledge among HCPs were high, but use of standard referral criteria was lacking. Significant differences were found in the donation-related attitudes, knowledge and behaviors of physicians and emergency department staff as compared to other staff in intensive care units with high organ donor potential. Also, while OPO staff were generally viewed positively, they were often perceived as outsiders rather than members of healthcare teams. Recommendations for improving the referral and donation processes are discussed.