Significant Morbidity and Mortality Among Hospitalized End-Stage Liver Disease Patients in Medicare.
CONTEXT: For end-stage liver disease (ESLD) patients, care focuses on managing the life-threatening complications of portal hypertension, causing high resource utilization. OBJECTIVES: To describe the end-of-life trajectory of hospitalized ESLD patients in Medicare. METHODS: Using a 5% random sample of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries, we performed a retrospective cohort study, identifying hospitalized ESLD and heart failure (HF) patients (2007-2011). Index hospitalization end points included mortality, discharge to hospice, and length of stay. Postdischarge end points included all-cause mortality, rehospitalization, hospice enrollment, and days alive and out of hospital (DAOH). Follow-up was at one and three years after index hospitalization discharge. A reference cohort of decompensated HF patients was used for baseline comparison. RESULTS: At one year, the ESLD cohort (n = 22,311) had 209 DAOH; decompensated HF (n = 85,397) had 252 DAOH. Among ESLD patients, inpatient mortality was 13.5%; all-cause mortality was 64.9%. For these outcomes, rates were higher in those with ESLD than HF. In the ESLD group, rehospitalization rate was 59.1% (slightly lower than the HF group), hospice enrollment rate was 36.1%, and there were higher than expected cancer rates. For hospice-enrolled patients, the median length of time spent in hospice was nine days. The HF cohort had lower hospice enrollment, but more days enrolled. CONCLUSION: The results of this study show that morbidity and mortality rates associated with end of life in ESLD are substantial. There is an acute need for alternative approaches to manage the care of ESLD patients.
Brown, CL; Hammill, BG; Qualls, LG; Curtis, LH; Muir, AJ
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