Academic Forensic Pathology | VOL. 12

The Intersection of Death Investigation and Organ Donation Systems: A Scoping Review

Publication Date Jun 1, 2022


Introduction: Death investigators (DIs) such as coroners, medical examiners, and forensic pathologists play important and evolving roles in deceased organ donation. DIs communicate with organ donation organizations (ODOs) to gather case-specific information and release or restrict organs depending on the medicolegal requirements. This scoping review aims to identify the breadth of roles and decision-making processes that may facilitate or hinder deceased donation in DI cases. Methods: This study was conducted using a scoping literature review and subsequent thematic analysis. Results: Thirty-one eligible papers described 8 common themes with region-specific nuances. These include: 1) shared (ODO and DI) protocols for early communication around each case; 2) shared standards and education for death investigation practices related to organ donation; 3) DI support staff or teams to facilitate organ donation; 4) DI authority to order additional testing and imaging before organ recovery; 5) donation-specific legislation to enhance DI and/or ODO operations; 6) legally trained DI authority to veto medical decisions to proceed with organ donation; 7) DI attendance at organ recovery; and 8) surgeons recording specific DI evidence during organ recovery. Conclusion: These findings have cultural and resource-allocation implications and expose gaps in the international literature describing practices at the intersection of deceased organ donation and death investigation. A better understanding of the rationale and execution of various sy...


Organ Donation Organizations Death Investigators Organ Donation Organ Recovery Organ Donation Systems Deceased Organ Donation Scoping Literature Review Death Investigation Systems Scoping Review Common Themes

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