Little is known about patients discharged to hospice following hospitalization for complications of cirrhosis.
We sought to understand the current pattern of hospice utilization in patients with cirrhosis by evaluating the North American Consortium for the Study of End-stage Liver Disease (NACSELD) cohort.
Patients with cirrhosis from 14 tertiary-care hepatology centers across North America non-electively hospitalized and prospectively enrolled were evaluated. Exclusion criteria included HIV infection, transplantation or non-hepatic malignancy. Random computer-based propensity score matching was undertaken in a 1:2 ratio based on admission MELD score ± 3 points.
Totally, 2718 patients were enrolled, 5% (N = 132) were discharged to hospice, 6% (N = 171) died, and the rest were discharged alive. Patients discharged to hospice were older (60 vs. 57 years, p = 0.04), less likely to have had SBP (13% vs. 28%, p = 0.002) and be listed for liver transplantation (11% vs. 26%, p = 0.0007). Features, on multivariable modeling, associated with increased probability of discharge to hospice as opposed to being discharged alive: grade-3-4 hepatic encephalopathy, a higher Child-Turcotte-Pugh (CTP) score, and a higher discharge serum creatinine; however, a higher serum sodium, being listed for transplant and being prescribed rifaximin or a statin were protective from hospice discharge.
Patients with more advanced liver disease, hepatic encephalopathy, renal dysfunction, and those not candidates for liver transplantation were more likely to be discharged to hospice. However, in this sick multinational cohort of cirrhotic inpatients, it seems that hospice is markedly underutilized (5%) since 25% of patients not discharged to hospice died within 6 months.