Sean G. Kelly, Toby C. Campbell, Luke Hillman, Adnan Said, Michael R. Lucey, Parul D. Agarwal
Introduction and aim. Utilization of palliative care services in patients dying of end-stage liver disease (ESLD) is understudied. We performed a retrospective review of palliative care services among patients with ESLD unsuitable for liver transplantation (LT) at a tertiary care center. Material and methods. Deceased ESLD patients considered unsuitable for LT from 2007-2012 were identified. Patients were excluded if they received a transplant, had an incomplete workup, were lost to follow up or whose condition improved so LT was not needed. Of the 1,175 patients reviewed, 116 met inclusion criteria. Results. Forty patients (34.4%) received an inpatient palliative care (PC) consultation and forty-one patients (35.3%) were referred directly to hospice. Thirty-three patients (28.4%) transitioned to comfort measures without PC consultation (median survival < 1 day). The median interval between LT denial and PC consultation or hospice was 28 days. Median survival after PC consult or hospice referral was 15 days. In conclusion, in a single center retrospective review of ESLD patients, palliative care services, when utilized, were for care at the very end of life. Without consultation, aggressive interventions continued until hours before death. We propose that ESLD patients could benefit from PC consultation at time of LT evaluation or based on MELD scores.
Key words. Quality of life, End Stage Liver Disease, Palliative Care, Liver Transplantation, Hospice