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New Qualified Health Care Professional requirement as part of ABO policy changes

Published on: Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Qualified health care professional is a new term used in the ABO policy changes that will go into effect after June 1, 2016. Upon implementation, policy will define a qualified health care professional as a person who is qualified to perform blood type reporting or verification requirements as defined in the OPO, transplant hospital or recovery hospital written protocol.

How to comply
OPOs, transplant hospitals and recovery hospitals will be required to have a protocol that defines a qualified health care professional to perform blood type reporting or verification for your institution. By the time this policy goes into effect, you need to:

  • Define who will report ABO type and subtype for your organization (RN transplant coordinator, central lab tech, etc.)
  • Decide how your organization will define and measure competency for staff to be considered a “qualified health care professional”
  • Create or choose a training module for your staff. UNOS will provide an educational product in late spring 2016 that could be used for training.
  • Maintain a record of successful completion of the module for each staff member that undergoes training
  • Create or update an existing protocol to reflect these steps

Don’t forget to ensure that people who already have permission to perform ABO verification in UNetSM for your organization meet your definition of qualified health care professional.

What’s the difference between a “qualified healthcare professional” and a “licensed healthcare professional”?
Policies for OPO ABO reporting and pre-recovery verification specify that a qualified health care professional must conduct these activities. Policies for transplant and living donor recovery hospitals specify that a qualified health care professional must be used to report ABO blood type to the OPTN. A qualified health care professional is a person who has met the organization’s standards to conduct these activities. This person may or may not be licensed. This allows for the use of properly trained personnel who may not hold medical licensure.

Policies for transplant hospital pre-transplant verifications and living donor hospital pre-recovery verification require use of a licensed healthcare professional. This is done to be consistent with Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) regulations.

Why was this policy change necessary?
The ABO subcommittee of the OPTN/UNOS Operations and Safety Committee studied UNOS data.

  • Between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2012, there were 153 cases of waitlist additions and 76 cases of deceased donor additions where reported ABO type verification did not match.
  • During the same period, 100 changes were made to ABO subtype. If these corrections hadn’t been made, ABO incompatible transplants could have taken place.

This prompted the subcommittee to look at who was entering ABO information and the need for specifically trained individuals to complete this important safety check.