Few have examined determinants of adverse outcomes in patients presenting with ascending cholangitis. The objective of this study was to examine factors associated with in-hospital mortality, prolonged length of stay (LOS) and increased hospital charges (HC) in patients presenting with acute cholangitis.
Within the Health Care Utilization Project Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS), we focused on patients, 18 years and older, admitted to the emergency department with cholangitis as primary diagnosis (1998–2009). Models were fitted to predict likelihood of in-hospital mortality, prolonged LOS and increased HC. Covariates included race, day of admission, insurance status, socio-economical status and other patient and hospital characteristics.
Overall, weighted estimates of 248,942 patients were admitted with acute cholangitis between 1998 and 2009, of which 13,534 (5.4%) died during the admission. Multivariable analyses revealed that relative to Caucasian patients, African American, Hispanic and Asian and Pacific Islander patients were more likely to die (OR = 1.61, p<0.001, OR = 1.20, p = 0.01 and OR = 1.26, p = 0.008), to experience a prolonged LOS (OR = 1.77, p<0.001, OR = 1.30, p<0.001, 1.34, p<0.001), and to incur high HC (OR = 1.83, p<0.001, OR = 1.51, p<0.001, OR = 1.56, p<0.001). Moreover, Medicaid and Medicare patients were more likely to die (OR = 1.64, p<0.001, OR = 1.24, p<0.001), to experience a prolonged LOS (1.74, p<0.001, OR = 1.25, p<0.001) and to incur high HC (OR = 1.23, p = 0.002, OR = 1.12, p = 0.002) compared to privately insured patients. In subgroup analysis, there were no differences for Medicare patients age 65 years and over. However, those under 65, most of whom have disability or end stage renal disease, were more likely to experience the negative outcomes.
Race and insurance status represent independent predictors of in-hospital mortality and adverse outcomes in patients presenting with cholangitis. Whether these disparities are due to biological predisposition or unequal quality of care requires further investigation. Regardless, efforts should be made to reduce these outcome disparities.