Hospitals that infrequently perform liver transplants have higher death rates than high-volume centers, according to a study reported in the Dec. 30 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
The researchers retrospectively studied liver transplants performed between 1987 and 1994. They found that one year after transplant, high-volume centers had death rates of 20% vs. 26% for low-volume centers. More practice and experience generally lead to better results, the researchers found.
High-volume centers were defined as those that performed 20 or more liver transplants per year. Low-volume centers did fewer than 20. The hospitals surveyed were not identified.
The study was conducted by researchers affiliated with the Richmond, Va.-based United Network for Organ Sharing, the federal contractor that allocates scarce organs for transplant. It echoes the results of other studies of complex medical procedures.