Telemedicine changing Riverside Tappahannock

Posted on Wednesday, October 24, 2012 at 11:33 am

Sissy Crowther

Riverside Tappahannock Hospital used telemedicine as part of its first-ever organ procurement.

Staff at Riverside Tappahannock Hospital attempted to resuscitate a patient but she was brain dead due to lack of oxygen. When that happens, a physician or neurologist is required by the Code of Virginia to declare the patient medically and legally dead. Riverside Tappahannock used both methods. A physician confirmed the diagnosis on site, and the hospital used telemedicine to consult a neurologist. Telemedicine allows Riverside Health System specialists to use video conferencing and electronic medical records to examine patients and consult in cases from afar.

“We could bring the trauma center neurology expert to the bedside at Tappahannock,” said James Dudley, M.D., Riverside Tappahannock Hospital Service Line Chief.

Once a person is declared brain dead, the organs may be donated. LifeNet Health, a Virginia Beach-based non-profit organ procurement organization designated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, was contacted and the patient’s family agreed to donate the organs of their loved one.  A recovery team from a regional transplant center flew in at 3 a.m. and, with the assistance of LifeNet Health and the hospital’s surgical team, recovered the patient’s kidneys and liver and transported the organs.

This marked the first time Riverside Tappahannock conducted an organ recovery and the first time telemedicine was used at the hospital as part of the process to declare brain death.

Because there’s such a need for organ donors, Dudley said he hopes more people would consider being a donor.

Nearly 115,000 people are on a waiting list for an organ, and every 10 minutes, another name is added.  An average of 79 people receives organ transplants each day, while an average of 18 people die each day waiting for an organ, according to

Organ donation saves lives. To become an organ donor, visit your local DMV or sign up online at


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