In-hospital mortality and economic burden associated with hepatic encephalopathy in the United States from 2005 to 2009

Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2012 Sep;10(9):1034-41.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2012.05.016. Epub 2012 May 27.


Background & aims: Hepatic encephalopathy (HE) is a major complication of cirrhosis that causes substantial mortality and utilization of resources.

Methods: We analyzed 5 cycles of the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, conducted between 2005 and 2009, to determine national estimates of incidence, prevalence, inpatient mortality, severity of illness, and resource utilization for inpatients with HE.

Results: The yearly inpatient incidence of HE ranged from 20,918 (2005) to 22,931 (2009) (P = .2226), comprising approximately 0.33% of all hospitalizations in the United States. Over the 5-year period of analysis, mortality of inpatients with HE remained relatively stable, at 14.13%-15.61% (P = .062); however, the proportion of patients with major and extreme severity of illness increased (P < .0001). The average length of inpatient stay increased from 8.1 to 8.5 days (P = .019). The average total inpatient charges increased from $46,663 to $63,108 per case (P < .0001). Furthermore, total national charges related to HE increased from $4676.7 million (2005) to $7244.7 million (2009). In multivariate analysis, independent predictors of inpatient mortality included the number of diagnoses per admission (odds ratio [OR] = 1.022; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.016-1.029 per diagnosis), number of procedures per admission (OR = 1.192 per procedure; 95% CI, 1.177-1.208), and major or extreme severity of illness (OR = 3.16; 95% CI, 2.84-3.50). The most important predictors of cost, charge, and length of stay were admission to a large, urban hospital; use of Medicaid or Medicaid as the payer; major or extreme severity of illness; number of diagnoses at discharge; and procedures per admission (P < .05).

Conclusions: Resource utilization increased from 2005 to 2009 for patients discharged from US hospitals with the diagnosis of HE. The inpatient mortality rate, however, remained stable, despite a trend toward more severe disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs / trends
  • Hepatic Encephalopathy / economics
  • Hepatic Encephalopathy / epidemiology*
  • Hepatic Encephalopathy / mortality*
  • Hospital Mortality / trends*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • United States / epidemiology