The influence of clinical variables on hospital costs after orthotopic liver transplantation

Surgery. 1999 Feb;125(2):217-22.


Background: The burgeoning influence of managed care in transplantation, coupled with a shrinking health-care dollar, has placed most transplant programs under intense pressure to cut costs. We undertook a retrospective cost-identification analysis to determine what clinical variables influenced financial outcomes after orthotopic cadaver liver transplants (OLTx).

Methods: Fifty patients receiving 53 transplants between April 1995 and November 1996 were reviewed. Clinical data were obtained from our institution's transplant database, and total costs (not charges) for the transplant admission and the 6 months after transplant were obtained with use of an activity-based cost accounting system (HBOC Trendstar, Atlanta, Ga).

Results: The average total cost of second transplants (n = 5) was $97,262 greater than for first transplants (n = 48, P < .05). Patients transplanted initially as United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) status 2 (n = 20) incurred average costs that were $51,762 higher than for patients transplanted as UNOS status 3 (n = 28, P = .008). Patients with a major bacterial or fungal infection (n = 28) incurred average costs $46,282 higher than recipients who were infection free (n = 22, P = .02). Multivariate analysis demonstrated that only length of stay, retransplantation, and postoperative dialysis were significantly and independently correlated with costs (r2 = .605). When the model was repeated with preoperative variables alone, only UNOS status was significantly correlated with 6-month total costs (P = .006, r2 = .16).

Conclusions: Length of stay is the most important determinant of costs after OLTx. Rational strategies to design cost-effective protocols after OLTx will require further studies to truly define the cost of various morbidities and outcomes after OLTx.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Hospital Costs / classification
  • Hospital Costs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitals, University / economics*
  • Humans
  • Liver Transplantation / economics*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Ohio
  • Reoperation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement
  • United States