Conference Coverage

VIDEO: Liver transplant center competition tied to delisting patients




– Low market competition among liver transplant centers may affect which patients are considered too sick to transplant, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.

With 20% of patients dying while on the transplant wait list, including those who were delisted, understanding the distribution of organs among donor service areas (DSAs) is crucial to lowering mortality during the current organ shortage, according to presenter Yanik Babekov, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

Investigators studied 3,131 patients who were delisted after being classified as “too sick” from 116 centers in 51 DSAs, between 2002 and 2012.

Researchers used the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI), which analyzes the market share of each participant to determine the overall level of competition. Measurements on the HHI range between 0 and 1, with 0 being the most competitive and 1 being the least.

Mean delisting Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) scores considered to be “too sick to transplant” were 26.1, and average HHI among DSAs was 0.46, according to investigators. They found that, for every 1% increase in HHI, the delisting MELD score increased by 0.06, according to a risk-adjustment analysis.

“In other words, more competitive DSAs delist patients for [being] ‘too sick’ at lower MELD scores,” Dr. Babekov explained in a video interview. “Interestingly, race, education, citizenship, and other DSA factors also impacted delisting MELD for ‘too sick.’ ”

While market competition may not be the only factor to explain the phenomenon of patients delisted for being ‘too sick,’ it is important to identify how having more transplant centers in DSAs can help more patients be added to, and stay on, these wait lists, according to investigators.

Dr. Babekov had no relevant financial disclosures.

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