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Medical Examiners, Coroners, and Organ Recovery in the United States

Randy Hanzlick, MD
JAMA. 1995;273(20):1578. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520440030024.
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To the Editor.  —The recent article by Ms Shafer and colleagues1 places undue emphasis on medical examiner/coroner (ME/C) denials to organ procurement organizations (OPOs). Cooperation of ME/Cs is obtained in almost 90% of OPO requests. The rate of organ recovery from ME/C cases is 10 times that of non-ME/C cases, with ME/Cs providing more than 50% of all donors. Trend data show that the increase in ME/C approvals was more than twice the increase in denials, and the adjusted data may have been biased toward ME/C organ denial cases due to changes in the OPOs surveyed. Overall organ recovery rates from ME/C and non-ME/C cases are extremely low, yet the attitudes of most persons favor organ donation, indicating OPO failure to identify and effect consent among many potential donor of all types, particularly non-ME/C donors.2The statement that "human lives are lost every time that organs are not

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