To describe the substantive and procedural criteria used for placing patients on the waiting list for liver transplantation and for allocating available livers to patients on the waiting list; to identify principal decision-makers and the main factors limiting liver transplantation in Canada; and to examine how closely cadaveric liver allocation resembles theoretic models of source allocation.
Medical directors of all seven Canadian adult liver transplantation centres, or their designates. Six of the questionnaires were completed.
Relative importance of substantive and procedural criteria used to place patients in the waiting list for liver transplantation and to allocate available livers. Identification of principal decision-makers and main limiting factors to adult liver transplantation.
Alcoholism, drug addiction, HIV positivity, primary liver cancer, noncompliance and hepatitis B were the most important criteria that had a negative influence on decisions to place patients on the waiting list for liver transplantation. Severity of disease and urgency were the most important criteria used for selecting patients on the waiting list for transplantation. Criteria that were inconsistent across the centres included social support (for deciding who is placed on the waiting list) and length of time on the waiting list (for deciding who is selected from the list). Although a variety of people were reported as being involved in these decisions, virtually all were reported to be health to be health care professionals. Thirty-seven patients died while waiting for liver transplantation in 1991; the scarcity of cadaveric livers was the main limiting factor.
Criteria for resource allocation decisions regarding liver transplantation are generally consistent among the centres across Canada, although some important inconsistencies remain. Because patients die while on the waiting list and because the primary limiting factor is organ supply, increased organ acquisition efforts are needed.
The demographics of primary biliary cirrhosis in Ontario, Canada, are described. Two hundred and twenty-five primary biliary cirrhosis patients were identified by 85 of 502 gastroenterologists (or internists) practicing in Ontario acute care hospitals that have 150 or more beds. Two hundred and six patients were verified as being antimitochondrial antibody-positive, resulting in an incidence of 3.26 per million per year and a prevalence of 22.39 per million. Questionnaire data were obtained on 88.5% of these patients. Twenty-nine percent of the patients were found to be asymptomatic. Geographical clustering and racial predisposition were not seen. No increase in breast cancer prevalence was noted. By the time the diagnosis of primary biliary cirrhosis was established, the patients had consulted a median number of 3.5 physicians. Fatigue was reported as the most disabling symptom. The diagnosis of primary biliary cirrhosis in patients referred from across the province of Ontario was independently confirmed by us, using standard criteria (antimitochondrial antibody testing and liver biopsy), and was found to be reliable.