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Frontline Gastroenterol. 2017 Jan;8(1):45-52. doi: 10.1136/flgastro-2016-100734. Epub 2016 Oct 5.

Integration of palliative and supportive care in the management of advanced liver disease: development and evaluation of a prognostic screening tool and supportive care intervention.

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Department of Hepatology, University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, Bristol, UK.
School of Clinical Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.
Department of Palliative Medicine, University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, Bristol, UK.
Public Health England South Region, Bristol, UK.



Patients with decompensated cirrhosis rarely receive palliative and supportive care interventions, which are routine in other life-limiting diseases. We aimed to design and evaluate a prognostic screening tool to routinely identify inpatients with decompensated cirrhosis at high risk of dying over the coming year, alongside the development of a supportive care intervention.


Clinical notes from consecutive patients admitted as an emergency to University Hospitals Bristol with a diagnosis of cirrhosis over two distinct 90-day periods were scrutinised retrospectively for the presence or absence of five evidence-based factors associated with poor prognosis. These were analysed against their ability to predict mortality at 1 year. 'Plan-Do-Study-Act' (PDSA) methodology was used to incorporate poor-prognosis screening into the routine assessment of patients admitted with cirrhosis, and develop a supportive care intervention.


73 admissions were scrutinised (79.5% male, 63% alcohol-related liver disease, median age 54). The presence of three or more poor-prognosis criteria at admission predicted 1-year mortality with sensitivity, specificity and positive predictive value of 72.2%, 83.8% and 81.3%, respectively, and was used as a trigger for implementing the supportive care intervention. Following modification from six PDSA cycles, prognostic screening was integrated into the assessment of all patients admitted with decompensated cirrhosis, with the supportive care intervention (developed simultaneously) instigated for appropriate patients.


We describe a model of care which identifies inpatients with cirrhosis at significant risk of dying over the coming year, and describe development of a supportive care intervention, which can be offered to suitable patients in parallel to ongoing active management.



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