Patients with chronic liver disease, such as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, alcoholic liver disease and chronic hepatitis C, had significantly longer hospital length of stay, annual health care charges and shorter hospice length of stay compared with other patients, according to recently published data.
“Although many experts have advocated for the expansion of hospice care to persons dying of all chronic illnesses including those patients without cancer, patterns of health care use at the end of life remain uneven among diseases,” Natsu Fukui, MD, from the Inova Fairfax Hospital, Virginia, and colleagues wrote. “Unfortunately, studies have shown that only a small proportion of patients with CLD receive palliative care.”
“Our findings support previous research showing that patients with chronic illnesses are generally referred to hospice late in their disease course, which may lead to inadequate time to benefit fully from hospice care. Our study further highlights the fact that this trend is substantially more prominent among patients with CLD. These results should raise awareness for timely hospice referral and incite conscious efforts to improve access to hospice services, which will be essential for enhancing the quality of end-of-life care of our patient with CLD.”