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Evidence-Based Checklist to Delay Cardiac Arrest in Brain-Dead Potential Organ Donors: The DONORS Cluster Randomized Clinical Trial

JAMA Netw Open. 2023 Dec 1;6(12):e2346901. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.46901.


IMPORTANCE: The effectiveness of goal-directed care to reduce loss of brain-dead potential donors to cardiac arrest is unclear.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effectiveness of an evidence-based, goal-directed checklist in the clinical management of brain-dead potential donors in the intensive care unit (ICU).

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: The Donation Network to Optimize Organ Recovery Study (DONORS) was an open-label, parallel-group cluster randomized clinical trial in Brazil. Enrollment and follow-up were conducted from June 20, 2017, to November 30, 2019. Hospital ICUs that reported 10 or more brain deaths in the previous 2 years were included. Consecutive brain-dead potential donors in the ICU aged 14 to 90 years with a condition consistent with brain death after the first clinical examination were enrolled. Participants were randomized to either the intervention group or the control group. The intention-to-treat data analysis was conducted from June 15 to August 30, 2020.

INTERVENTIONS: Hospital staff in the intervention group were instructed to administer to brain-dead potential donors in the intervention group an evidence-based checklist with 13 clinical goals and 14 corresponding actions to guide care, every 6 hours, from study enrollment to organ retrieval. The control group provided or received usual care.

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: The primary outcome was loss of brain-dead potential donors to cardiac arrest at the individual level. A prespecified sensitivity analysis assessed the effect of adherence to the checklist in the intervention group.

RESULTS: Among the 1771 brain-dead potential donors screened in 63 hospitals, 1535 were included. These patients included 673 males (59.2%) and had a median (IQR) age of 51 (36.3-62.0) years. The main cause of brain injury was stroke (877 [57.1%]), followed by trauma (485 [31.6%]). Of the 63 hospitals, 31 (49.2%) were assigned to the intervention group (743 [48.4%] brain-dead potential donors) and 32 (50.8%) to the control group (792 [51.6%] brain-dead potential donors). Seventy potential donors (9.4%) at intervention hospitals and 117 (14.8%) at control hospitals met the primary outcome (risk ratio [RR], 0.70; 95% CI, 0.46-1.08; P = .11). The primary outcome rate was lower in those with adherence higher than 79.0% than in the control group (5.3% vs 14.8%; RR, 0.41; 95% CI, 0.22-0.78; P = .006).

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: This cluster randomized clinical trial was inconclusive in determining whether the overall use of an evidence-based, goal-directed checklist reduced brain-dead potential donor loss to cardiac arrest. The findings suggest that use of such a checklist has limited effectiveness without adherence to the actions recommended in this checklist.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: Identifier: NCT03179020.

PMID:38095899 | DOI:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.46901

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