A retrospective study on use of palliative care for patients with alcohol related end stage liver disease in United States

Author Department

Gastroenterology; Internal Medicine; Medicine

Document Type

Article, Peer-reviewed

Publication Date



Background: Palliative care (PC) has been shown to be beneficial in end stage liver disease (ESLD), yet the hospitalization data for PC utilization is unknown.

Aim: To identify the trend of PC utilization for the special population of alcohol-associated ESLD patients, factors affecting its use and ascertain its impact on healthcare utilization.

Methods: We analyzed around 78 million discharges from the 2007-2014 national inpatient sample and 2010-2014 national readmission database including adult patients admitted for decompensated alcohol-associated cirrhosis. We identified patients with PC consultation as a secondary diagnosis. Odds ratios (OR) and means were adjusted for confounders using multivariate regression analysis models.

Results: Out of the total 1421849 hospitalizations for decompensated liver cirrhosis, 62782 (4.4%) hospitalizations had a PC consult, which increased from 0.8% (1258) of all alcohol-associated ESLD hospitalizations in 2007 to 6.6% in 2014 (P < 0.01). Patient and hospital characteristics associated with increased odds of PC utilization were advanced age, lower income, Medicaid coverage, teaching institution, urban location, length of stay > 3 d, prolonged ventilation, and administration of total parenteral nutrition (all P < 0.01). Palliative encounters in alcohol-associated ESLD and acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF) score were associated with increased odds of discharge to a rehabilitation facility, but significantly lower odds of 30-d readmissions (aOR: 0.35, 95%CI: 0.31-0.41), lower total hospitalization charges and lower mean hospitalization days (all P < 0.01).

Conclusion: Inpatient PC is sparingly used for patients with decompensated alcohol related liver disease, however it has increased over the past decade. PC consultation is associated with lower 30-d readmission rates on multivariate analysis, and lower hospitalization cost and length of stay in patients with ACLF score ≥ 2.

Keywords: Alcohol-associated cirrhosis; End stage liver disease; National inpatient sample; National readmission database; Palliative care.