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German minister calls for stricter control on organ transplants

Germany Health Minister Daniel Bahr has called for stricter controls over Germany's stricken organ transplant system. He said new measures must be introduced to prevent further cases of waiting list manipulation.

Daniel Bahr of the Free Democratic Party (FDP) presented his plan for tighter independent control over Germany's transplant centers during an emergency meeting of leading health professionals on Monday. The minister met with representatives from all 16 German states, health insurance providers, hospitals and medical associations in Berlin to devise a plan to reform Germany's scandal-hit organ transplant system.

It follows allegations that surgeons in the German cities of Göttingen and Regensburg falsified medical files to speed up the supply of donor organs for paying patients.

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Minister calls for transparency in organ transplant system

A key outcome from Monday's talks was the so-called six-eye principle. It was decided that at least three people should be responsible for admitting patients onto the transplant waiting list. The result of this joint decision must then be thoroughly and clearly documented.

All specialist transplant clinics would also be examined by independent investigators to ensure there have been no abnormalities. In future, the health representatives agreed on regular unannounced investigations to be carried out throughout the country.

In Germany, it's the hospital associations, the health insurers and the doctors, who are currently responsible for overseeing the system of organ donation and distribution. They all have a financial interest since transplants bring in a lot of money. This system, which offers rewards for the number of procedures carried out, should be abolished, it was decided.

Of some 50,000 transplants carried out in recent years, just 31 were found to be in violation of the organ allocation system, the German Medical Association has said. Nevertheless, since the scandal broke the number of organ donations in Germany has dropped markedly.

Over the last year around 1,100 patients have died in Germany while waiting to receive organs.

ccp/sej, ipj (dpa, DAPD, Reuters)

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