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Health Care Manag Sci. 2001 Jun;4(2):117-24.

A simulation modelling approach to evaluating alternative policies for the management of the waiting list for liver transplantation.

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Health Economics Research Group, Brunel University, Uxbridge, UK.


A shortage of donor liver grafts unfortunately results in approximately 10% of patients dying whilst listed for a liver transplant in Europe and the United States. Thus it is imperative that all available organs are used as efficiently as possible. This paper reports upon the application of a simulation modelling approach to assess the impact of several alternative allocation policies upon the cost effectiveness of this technology at one liver transplant centre in the UK. The impact of changes in allocation criteria on the estimated net life expectancy, average net costs and overall cost effectiveness of the transplantation programme were evaluated. The incremental cost effectiveness ratio (ICER) for the base case allocation policy, based upon the time spent on the waiting list (i.e., longest wait first) was 11,557 pounds sterling at 1999 prices. The ICERs associated with an allocation policy based upon age (lowest age first), and an allocation policy based upon the severity of the pre-transplant condition of the patient (with most severely ill patients given a lower priority) were lower than the base case at 10,424 pounds sterling and 9,077 pounds sterling, respectively. The results of this modelling study suggest that the overall cost effectiveness of the liver transplantation programme could be improved if the current allocation policy were modified to give more weight to the age of the patient and the reduced chances of success of the most severely ill patients.

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