Greater travel time to a liver transplant center does not adversely affect clinical outcomes

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The effect of patient travel time to a transplant center on outcomes is unknown. We compared outcomes between patients living >3 hours (Group A) vs. ≤3 (Group B) hours drive away. Adult, nonacute liver failure patients entering transplant evaluation from February 27, 2002 to January 31, 2005 were analyzed. Of 166 patients, 126 (75.5%) were listed and 66 (39.5%) received transplantation. Outcomes of interest were >90 days to list, listing, survival while listed, transplantation, and posttransplantation survival. Covariates included Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) score, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), alcoholic liver disease, insurance type, and psychosocial score. There were 38 (23%) patients in Group A and 128 (77%) in Group B. Median MELD scores were 14.5 (range, 6–36) for Group A and 14.0 (range, 7–32) for Group B (p = 0.20). Groups were similar for age, gender, diagnosis, psychosocial score, insurance, and HCC variables. Group A was not independently associated with >90 days to list (odds ratio, 0.98; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.4–2.4). Kaplan-Meier cumulative probabilities for listing, transplantation, and 1-yr posttransplantation survival were similar (A vs. B: 0.77 vs. 0.83, 0.70 vs. 0.69, and 0.85 vs. 0.86, respectively; all p values >0.05). Being in Group A remained insignificant in terms of probability of listing, transplantation, and posttransplantation survival by Cox proportional hazard modeling. Survival on the list was significantly better for Group A (A: 1.0, B: 0.55; p = 0.02). Fewer patients at high MELD score in Group A and referral biases may explain this difference. In conclusion, after entering evaluation, patients living >3 hours away from a transplant center have comparable outcomes to those living closer. Liver Transpl 14:18–24, 2008. © 2007 AASLD.

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