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Potentially inappropriate liver transplantation in the era of the “sickest first” policy – A search for the upper limits


Linecker, Michael; Krones, Tanja; Berg, Thomas; Niemann, Claus U; Steadman, Randolph H; Dutkowski, Philipp; Clavien, Pierre-Alain; Busuttil, Ronald W; Truog, Robert D; Petrowsky, Henrik (2018). Potentially inappropriate liver transplantation in the era of the “sickest first” policy – A search for the upper limits. Journal of Hepatology, 68(4):798-813.

Abstract

Liver transplantation has emerged as a highly efficient treatment for a variety of acute and chronic liver diseases. However, organ shortage is becoming an increasing problem globally, limiting the applicability of liver transplantation. In addition, potential recipients are becoming sicker, thereby increasing the risk of losing the graft during transplantation or in the initial postoperative period after liver transplantation (three months). This trend is challenging the model for end-stage liver disease allocation system, where the sickest candidates are prioritised and no delisting criteria are given. The weighting of the deontological demand for "equity", trying to save every patient, regardless of the overall utility; and "efficiency", rooted in utilitarianism, trying to save as many patients as possible and increase the overall quality of life of patients facing the same problem, has to be reconsidered. In this article we are aiming to overcome the widespread concept of futility in liver transplantation, providing a definition of potentially inappropriate liver transplantation and giving guidance on situations where it is best not to proceed with liver transplantation, to decrease the mortality rate in the first three months after transplantation. We propose "absolute" and "relative" conditions, where early post-transplant mortality is highly probable, which are not usually captured in risk scores predicting post-transplant survival. Withholding liver transplantation for listed patients in cases where liver transplant is not deemed clearly futile, but is potentially inappropriate, is a far-reaching decision. Until now, this decision had to be discussed extensively on an individual basis, applying explicit communication and conflict resolution processes, since the model for end-stage liver disease score and most international allocation systems do not include explicit delisting criteria to support a fair delisting process. More work is needed to better identify cases where transplantation is potentially inappropriate and to integrate and discuss these delisting criteria in allocation systems, following a societal debate on what we owe to all liver transplant candidates.

Abstract

Liver transplantation has emerged as a highly efficient treatment for a variety of acute and chronic liver diseases. However, organ shortage is becoming an increasing problem globally, limiting the applicability of liver transplantation. In addition, potential recipients are becoming sicker, thereby increasing the risk of losing the graft during transplantation or in the initial postoperative period after liver transplantation (three months). This trend is challenging the model for end-stage liver disease allocation system, where the sickest candidates are prioritised and no delisting criteria are given. The weighting of the deontological demand for "equity", trying to save every patient, regardless of the overall utility; and "efficiency", rooted in utilitarianism, trying to save as many patients as possible and increase the overall quality of life of patients facing the same problem, has to be reconsidered. In this article we are aiming to overcome the widespread concept of futility in liver transplantation, providing a definition of potentially inappropriate liver transplantation and giving guidance on situations where it is best not to proceed with liver transplantation, to decrease the mortality rate in the first three months after transplantation. We propose "absolute" and "relative" conditions, where early post-transplant mortality is highly probable, which are not usually captured in risk scores predicting post-transplant survival. Withholding liver transplantation for listed patients in cases where liver transplant is not deemed clearly futile, but is potentially inappropriate, is a far-reaching decision. Until now, this decision had to be discussed extensively on an individual basis, applying explicit communication and conflict resolution processes, since the model for end-stage liver disease score and most international allocation systems do not include explicit delisting criteria to support a fair delisting process. More work is needed to better identify cases where transplantation is potentially inappropriate and to integrate and discuss these delisting criteria in allocation systems, following a societal debate on what we owe to all liver transplant candidates.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, further contribution
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Visceral and Transplantation Surgery
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Uncontrolled Keywords:Hepatology
Language:English
Date:1 April 2018
Deposited On:07 Mar 2019 12:29
Last Modified:25 Sep 2019 00:25
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0168-8278
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhep.2017.11.008
PubMed ID:29133246

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