Patient Characteristics And The Way Patients Are Treated Have Impact On Hospital Costs Of Liver Transplants

A new study by UC San Francisco health policy researchers has found that age, severity of illness of patients, and the types of services patients receive have a major impact on hospital resource use for liver transplantation. These findings, according to the researchers, suggest that guidelines to standardize resource use may lower costs of liver transplants.

"This is the first study to address the relationship between resources used for this procedure and specific patient characteristics and clinical practices," said Jonathan Showstack, PhD, MPH, UCSF professor of medicine and health policy.

"Findings from this study may be used to improve the cost-effectiveness of liver transplantation and to inform organ allocation policies." The study published in this week's (April 21) Journal of American Medical Association examined hospital costs for liver transplants at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, the Mayo Clinic, and the University of Nebraska. The study provides estimates of the costs associated with different levels of illness severity and other patient characteristics. Findings of the study highlight the clinical, economic, and ethical dilemmas in liver transplantation.

Study findings showed that higher donor age and age of recipient were both associated with higher costs of liver transplantation. Researchers found transplant recipients with donors 60 years or older were 28 percent more costly than donors under 60 years. Recipients who were also 60 years or older were 17 percent more costly to treat.

Patients with alcoholic liver disease were 26 percent more costly than patients without the disease. Patients classified as severely ill at the time of transplant also were 40 percent more costly to treat. "Our data suggest that the recent policy change that places severely ill patients high on the waiting list could lead to a substantial increase in resources used for liver transplantation in the United States," sa

Contact: Lordelyn P. del Rosario
University of California - San Francisco

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