Improved Mortality But Increased Economic Burden of Disease in Compensated and Decompensated Cirrhosis: A US National Perspective

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INTRODUCTION: Cirrhosis remains a major burden on the health care system despite substantial advances in therapy and care. Studies simultaneously examining mortality, readmission, and cost of care are not available. Here, we hypothesized that improved patient care in the last decade might have led to improved outcomes and reduced costs in patients with cirrhosis. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We identified compensated cirrhosis (CC) and decompensated cirrhosis (DC) patients using carefully chosen ICD-9/ICD-10 codes from the Nationwide Readmission Database (NRD) (years 2010 to 2016). We evaluated trends of 30-day all-cause mortality, 30-day readmission, and inflation-adjusted index hospitalization and readmission costs. Factors associated with mortality and readmission were identified using regression analyses. RESULTS: A total of 3,374,038 patients with cirrhosis were identified, of whom nearly 50% had a decompensating event on initial admission. The 30-day inpatient mortality rate for both CC and DC patients decreased from 2010 to 2016. The 30-day readmission rate remained stable for DC and declined for CC. Over the study period, 30-day readmission costs increased for DC and remained unchanged for CC. The median cost for index hospitalization remained nearly unchanged, but the cost of readmission increased for both CC and DC groups. Gastrointestinal diseases and infections were the leading cause of readmission in CC and DC patient groups. CONCLUSION: Inpatient mortality has decreased for CC and DC patients. Readmission has declined for CC patients and remained stable for DC patients. However, the economic burden of cirrhosis is rising.