More is better for transplant patients

Hospitals that perform more liver transplants have higher survival rates for patients, according to a study sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Researchers analyzed data from a report published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, DC, which reported patient survival rates at 103 liver transplant centers across the country. Based on all of the centers’ three-month and one-year patient survival rates, those that performed the largest volume of liver transplants had the best survival rates.

The study also named 11 centers of excellence in liver transplantation. The centers named were evaluated in relation to their risk-adjusted expected survival rates, and had higher-than-expected rates. Seven of the 11 centers performed an average of more than 50 transplants a year.

John Fung, MD, PhD, associate professor of surgery and chief of the division of transplantation at the University of Pittsburgh Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute, says patients should consider the following guidelines when selecting a place to have a liver transplant:

• survival rates;

• center volume;

• average wait on the transplantation list;

• acceptance of patients with various risk factors;

• track record for turning down suitable organs for nonmedical reasons.