To determine whether referral of potential organ donors is affected by race of the patient.
Retrospective chart audit.
Regional trauma center serving a 50% African-American population.
Records of patients meeting organ procurement organization criteria were reviewed for evidence that (1) they had been identified as a potential organ donor, (2) the family had been approached about organ donation, and (3) the family had agreed to or refused organ donation.
There were 620 deaths, 152 (24%) met all donor criteria, 114 (75%) were identified as potential donors, 90 (59%) were approached for donation, and 35 (23%) were organ donors. Of the white patients, 84% (71/85) vs 64% of the African-Americans (43/67) were identified as donors (P<.01); 69% (59) of the whites vs 46% (31) of the African-Americans were approached for donation (P<.01); and 28% (24) of the whites vs 16% (11) of the African-Americans were organ donors (P<.086).
Before and after controlling for cause of death, the risk that African-American donors would not be identified was more than 2.4 times greater than for whites (P<.01). No significant racial differences were noted in requests for suicide and homicide victims; for accident victims, significantly fewer requests were made of African-Americans. Efforts must be made to determine the dynamics of interaction between staff and donor families and to enhance healthcare team members abilities to identify donors and request donations from both races in stress-provoking situations.(Arch Surg. 1993;128:1331-1335)