Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) called on HHS to investigate scandals involving the liver transplant programs at two California hospitals. In a letter to HHS' Health Resources and Services Administration, Grassley urged a detailed review of the programs at the University of California at Irvine Medical Center and St. Vincent Medical Center, Los Angeles. An HRSA spokesman said the agency was "working through all the requests the senator has made." UC-Irvine shut down its liver transplant program last month after Medicare halted payment for the procedures. The program reportedly turned down dozens of organs that might have saved patients who subsequently died. St. Vincent also decided to close its program last month, acknowledging that doctors misallocated a liver to a lower-priority patient in violation of standards set by the United Network for Organ Sharing. Grassley wrote, "It appears that patients almost certainly died (at UC-Irvine), whether because an organ that could have been transplanted was refused, or because the transplant team was out of practice ... I want to know if UNOS and/or HRSA did anything to ensure that those patients had the same chance to receive a liver transplant as other patients on the wait list." -- by Matthew DoBias
Grassley calls for probe of troubled transplant programs
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