"This is never a direct one-on-one relationship between any two individuals," said DiCarlo, explaining the potential for miscommunication. "Especially when there are multiple organs coming in and multiple patients being seen, patients could be confused, names could be confused … and a wrong patient could be called in that was either on a separate list for a different blood group or lower down on the list."
But a series of safeguards are in place to prevent patients from receiving the wrong organ.
"The surgeon is ultimately responsible for making sure that the patient who's now in the operating room is indeed a patient on this list and is the patient that they wanted to be calling in from this list," DiCarlo said.
While USC reviews the incident, which involves the development of a corrective action plan in collaboration with the Network for Organ Sharing Department of Quality, the hospital is offering support to patients unable to receive kidneys through the university's program.
"Staff is providing assistance to patients on the kidney wait list by helping them get on kidney wait lists at other facilities, if that is their choice. Clinic appointments, testing and other patient care are continuing as scheduled," USC's Ridgeway said.
The review is set to be completed today, at which time they will consider reactivating the program, Ridgeway said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.