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Houston hospital reports that doctor’s alterations to database rendered patients unfit for liver transplants

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Houston hospital says doctor's changes to a database made patients ineligible for liver transplants, ET HealthWorld

In a shocking turn of events, a Houston hospital, Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, has put a halt to its liver and kidney transplant programs. This decision came after the discovery that a doctor had manipulated a database for liver transplant patients, rendering them ineligible for receiving a new organ. The hospital’s ongoing investigation revealed that the doctor had made inappropriate changes in the database for individuals awaiting liver transplants, affecting the donor acceptance criteria. Although the hospital did not name the doctor involved, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston defended Dr. Steve Bynon, stating that he is an exceptionally talented and caring physician with exceptional survival rates.

The inappropriate changes to the database were specific to the liver transplant program, prompting Memorial Hermann to suspend both liver and kidney transplant programs due to shared leadership. This move, while necessary given the gravity of the allegation, has significant consequences for patients awaiting transplants. Karen Maschke, a research scholar at the Hastings Center, emphasized the importance of fairness, transparency, and accountability in transplant programs to maintain public trust and donor confidence.

Publicly available data from the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients revealed a higher-than-expected death rate for patients awaiting liver transplants at Memorial Hermann in recent years. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network are actively addressing the matter. Memorial Hermann is working with affected patients to ensure they receive necessary care and is collaborating with UTHealth Houston to potentially reactivate the transplant programs under new leadership.

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