Although the Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) scoring system has improved the ability to measure medical urgency for transplantation, geographic disparities in the probability of being delisted as a result of complications of end-stage liver disease or death and in the probability of orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) remain. The purpose of the current study was to identify factors associated with these variations among donor service areas (DSAs) in one United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) region. Data for 2,948 candidates listed for OLT within 4 DSAs in UNOS region 4 between February 2002 and November 2005 were obtained from UNOS. Multivariate regression models were used to identify study factors associated with delisting (due to deterioration or death) and likelihood of OLT. After risk adjustment for candidate characteristics, those listed in DSA-3 and DSA-4 were at significantly higher risk of delisting than candidates listed in DSA-2 (hazard ratio, 1.22 and 1.10 vs. 0.87 for DSA-2; P = 0.01 and 0.05, respectively). In addition, the likelihood of OLT was significantly higher for candidates listed in DSA-1 than in DSA-2, DSA-3 or DSA-4 (hazard ratio, 1.00 compared with 0.45, 0.77, and 0.51; P< 0.001 for all pairwise comparisons). Despite the implementation of the MELD system, great geographic disparities exist in the likelihood of delisting and for OLT, suggesting the need for further refinement in regional allocation strategies.
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