In the past, we have blogged about our inefficient kidney matching system: almost 100,000 people are waiting for kidneys, only about 20,000 receive kidneys.
Now we learn that physicians throw away about 2000 usable kidneys. One of the reasons is the government's performance evaluation metric: If the number of failures exceeds expected levels by 50 percent, transplant programs are put on watch list, and then decertified if they dont improve. This incentive encourages physicians to reject all but the best organs for transplant:
“When you’re looking at organs on the margins, if you’ve had a couple of bad outcomes recently you say, ‘Well, why should I do this?’ ” said Dr. Lloyd E. Ratner, direct of renal and pancreatic transplantation at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia hospital. “You can always find a reason to turn organs down. It’s this whole cascade that winds up with people being denied care or with reduced access to care.”
After the University of Toledo was cited, a transplant surgeon cut back to about 60 transplants a year from 100, becoming far choosier about the organs and recipients he accepted.
The one-year transplant survival rate rose to 96 percent from 88 percent, but Dr. Rees still bristles at the trade-off. “Which serves America better?” he asked. “A program doing 100 kidneys and 88 percent of them are working, or a program that does 60 kidneys and 59 of them are working? It’s rationing health care under the guise of quality, and it’s a tragedy that we are throwing away perfectly good organs.”
Someone, please, let these people use a market.