EVOLVING TRENDS IN LIVER TRANSPLANTATION: An Outcome and Charge Analysis1,2


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Abstract

Background.Due to the limited supply and increased demand for donor livers, waiting times are progressively lengthening, which may lead to transplantation at more advanced and less cost-effective stages of disease. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the outcomes and hospital charges of liver transplantation during two recent eras to identify areas for providing more cost-effective care.Methods.A total of 144 primary liver allografts were performed from 1991 to 1996. Patient characteristics, outcome measures, and hospital charges were compared for patients receiving allografts between 1991 and 1993 (group A) versus those receiving grafts between 1994 and 1996 (group B) using unpaired Student t tests for continuous data and chi-squared tests for categorical data.Results.In comparing groups A and B, no significant differences in patient demographics, relative contraindications, or indication for transplantation existed; median waiting time from date of listing until transplant increased from 88 days to 159 days; and a shift in UNOS priority status at time of transplantation occurred, as the percentage of patients requiring inpatient care increased from 58% to 75% (P=0.034). Despite this, patient hospital and 1-year survival significantly improved from 75.0% to 90.3% (P=0.016), and from 68.1% to 88.9% (P=0.002), respectively. Total hospital charges, without correction for inflation, were $174,908±16,388 in A and $193,525±14,444 in B (P=0.288). The increased charges were associated with longer inpatient length of stay (LOS) before transplant, resulting in increased pretransplant charges from $24,088±4134 (A) to $39,490±6,196 (B) (P=0.011). Room and service (54%) was the largest pre-transplant contributor to charges, while blood products (23%), room and service (21%), organ acquisition (13%), and operating room charges (11%) contributed the most after transplant.Conclusions.Longer waiting times resulting in transplantation at later stages of disease have occurred, leading to longer pretransplant LOS and its associated charges. Despite more advanced disease, patient survival rates have significantly improved with fewer infection-related deaths. LOS pretransplant, blood products, and operating room services represent potential areas for providing more cost-effective care.

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