Characteristics of patients with cirrhosis who are discharged from the hospital against medical advice

Robert P Myers, Abdel Aziz M Shaheen, James N Hubbard, Gilaad G Kaplan
Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology 2009, 7 (7): 786-92

BACKGROUND & AIMS: Patients discharged from hospital against medical advice are at risk of adverse health outcomes. The frequency and predictors of self-discharge in cirrhotic patients have not been examined.

METHODS: By using the 1993-2005 US Nationwide Inpatient Sample, we identified 581,380 cirrhotic patients who had been admitted to hospitals. The proportion discharged against medical advice and predictors of self-discharge were analyzed by using regression models with adjustments for clinical factors, including illness severity.

RESULTS: Of the patients with cirrhosis identified, 2.8% left their hospital against medical advice. Self-discharge was most common in patients with alcoholic cirrhosis (4.2%) and hepatitis B or C ( approximately 3%) and least common among those with chronic cholestasis (0.4%). Independent predictors of self-discharge included male sex, younger age, non-private insurance, and admission to urban, nonteaching hospitals. Patients undergoing surgery and those with more comorbidities were less likely to leave against medical advice, whereas those with human immunodeficiency virus, drug and alcohol abuse, or psychosis were more likely to leave against medical advice. Self-discharge was less common among patients with hepatic decompensation (odds ratio [OR], 0.79; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.76-0.82), primary liver cancer (OR, 0.49; 95% CI, 0.41-0.59), or prior transplantation (OR, 0.37; 95% CI, 0.25-0.55). Length of stay and hospital charges were lower in patients discharged against medical advice (P < .0001).

CONCLUSIONS: Approximately 1 in 36 hospitalized cirrhotic patients leave hospital against medical advice. Self-discharge is most common among patients with alcoholic cirrhosis, lower socioeconomic status, psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, and less severe liver disease. These findings might assist in the prevention of self-discharge and, ultimately, improve health outcomes in patients with cirrhosis.

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