Nurse knowledge and attitudes towards organ donation and deemed consent: the Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act in Nova Scotia

Nurse knowledge and attitudes towards organ donation and deemed consent: the Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act in Nova Scotia
Reports of Original Investigations
Robin Urquhart, Nelofar Kureshi, Jade Dirk, Matthew Weiss, Stephen Beed
Canadian Journal of Anesthesia, 1 December 2022
Abstract
Purpose
In April 2019, the Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act (HOTDA) in Nova Scotia was modified to incorporate a deemed consent model. In this study, we sought to understand intensive care unit (ICU) and emergency department (ED) nurses’ knowledge of and confidence around organ donation and transplantation, experiences with organ donors and recipients, attitudes toward organ donation and deemed consent, and perceived opportunities and barriers to a deemed consent approach in view of the legislative change.
Methods
We sent an electronic, self-administered survey to all ICU and ED nurses in Nova Scotia. The survey queried respondents on their knowledge of, experience with, and attitudes around organ donation and HOTDA, and opportunities and barriers to the implementation of HOTDA in clinical practice. Survey results were analyzed using descriptive statistics.
Results
One-hundred and ninety-four nurses responded to the survey. Nearly all (98%) supported organ donation, with 86% having signed an organ donor card to donate organs and/or tissues after death. A considerable majority (89%) also supported the new legislation. Nevertheless, a minority of respondents (13%) believed that deemed consent legislation would be considered a violation of the general principles of freedom and autonomy. The three most identified topics for ongoing training were coordination of the donation process (70%), clinical management of donors (70%), and family issues in decision-making (70%).
Conclusion
Intensive care unit and ED nurses had positive attitudes toward organ donation, including deemed consent model. The findings should inform educational initiatives in Nova Scotia and beyond to optimize organ donation processes and outcomes.

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