Increasing Health Care Burden of Chronic Liver Disease Compared With Other Chronic Diseases, 2004-2013

Gastroenterology. 2018 Sep;155(3):719-729.e4. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2018.05.032. Epub 2018 May 23.


Background & aims: Chronic liver disease (CLD) is a common and expensive condition, and studies of CLD-related hospitalizations have underestimated the true burden of disease. We analyzed data from a large, diverse health care system to compare time trends in CLD-related hospitalizations with those in congestive heart failure (CHF) or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Methods: We collected data from a large health care system in Texas on hospitalizations related to CLD (n = 27,783), CHF (n = 60,415), and COPD (n = 34,199) from January 1, 2004 through December 31, 2013. We calculated annual hospitalization rates (per 100,000) and compared hospital course, inpatient mortality, ancillary services, and readmissions.

Results: Compared with patients with CHF (median age, 71 years) or COPD (median age, 69 years), patients with CLD were significantly younger (median age, 57 years) (P < .01 vs CHF and COPD). Higher proportions of patients with CLD were uninsured (11.7% vs 5.4% for CHF and 5.4% for COPD, P < .01) and Hispanic (17% for CLD vs 9.3% for CHF and 5.0% for COPD, P < .01). A lower proportion of patients with CLD had Medicare (41.5% vs 68.6% with CHF and 70.1% with COPD, P < .01). From 2004 through 2013, the rate of CLD-related hospitalization increased by 92% (from 1295/100,000 to 2490/100,000), compared with 6.7% for CHF (from 3843/100,000 to 4103/100,000) and 48.8% for COPD (from 1775/100,000 to 2642/100,000). During this time period, CLD-related hospitalizations covered by Medicare increased from 31.8% to 41.5%, whereas hospitalizations covered by Medicare did not change for CHF (remained at 70%) or COPD (remained at 70%). Patients with CLD had longer hospital stays (7.3 days vs 6.2 days for CHF and 5.9 days for COPD, P < .01). A higher proportion of patients with CLD died or were discharged to hospice (14.2% vs 11.5% of patients with CHF and 9.3% of patients with COPD, P < .01), and a smaller proportion had access to postacute care (13.2% vs 23.2% of patients with CHF and 27.4% of patients with COPD, P < .01). A higher proportion of patients with CLD were readmitted to the hospital within 30 days (25% vs 21.9% of patients with CHF and 20.6% with COPD, P < .01).

Conclusions: Patients with CLD, compared with selected other chronic diseases, had increasing rates of hospitalization, longer hospital stays, more readmissions, and, despite these adverse outcomes, less access to postacute care. Disease management models for CLD are greatly needed to manage the anticipated increase in hospitalizations for CLD.

Keywords: Cirrhosis; Epidemiology; Temporal; Trend.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cost of Illness*
  • End Stage Liver Disease / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / epidemiology*
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / epidemiology*
  • United States / epidemiology