Care for potential organ donors

Care for potential organ donors

Patients, their families and carers should be treated with dignity and respect. If possible, all care should be given with the informed consent of the patient. If the patient is not able to make decisions about their care, their healthcare professionals have a duty to talk to their parents, family or guardians unless the patient has specifically asked them not to. People have the right to be involved in discussions and make informed decisions about treatment and care with the healthcare team. People's choices are important and healthcare professionals should support these wherever possible.

To help people make decisions where appropriate, healthcare professionals should explain organ donation. They should cover possible questions and concerns related to the personal circumstances. People should be given relevant information that is suitable and reflects any religious, ethnic, or cultural needs. It should also take into account whether there is any physical or learning disability, sight or hearing problem or language difficulties. People should have access to an interpreter or advocate (someone who helps people put their views across) if needed.

People should be able to discuss or review the care as time progresses, or circumstances change (although this may not be possible in some emergency situations). This may include changing their mind about organ donation. If the potential donor has made an 'advance decision' (known as a 'living will' in the past) in which they have already given instructions about any treatments that they wish to have or do not wish to have, their healthcare professionals have a legal obligation to take this into account. Healthcare professionals should also consider whether a person has expressed a preference about organ donation, for example by signing the NHS organ donor register.

Healthcare professionals should follow the Department of Health's advice on consent (www.dh.gov.uk/en/DH_103643) and the code of practice for the Mental Capacity Act. Information about the Act and consent issues is available from www.nhs.uk/CarersDirect/moneyandlegal/legal. In Wales healthcare professionals should follow advice on consent from the Welsh Government (www.wales.nhs.uk/consent).

In the NHS, patients and healthcare professionals have rights and responsibilities as set out in the NHS Constitution (www.dh.gov.uk/DH_132961). All NICE guidance is written to reflect these.

  • Information Standard