Rising Inpatient Encounters and Economic Burden for Patients with Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in the USA

Alexander L. Nguyen, Haesuk Park, Pauline Nguyen, Edward Sheen, Yoona A. Kim, Mindie H. Nguyen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Background: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the fastest-growing chronic liver disease. However, little is known about NAFLD inpatient resource utilization and clinical outcomes. Aims: The aim of this study was to quantify inpatient NAFLD encounters using patient-level data over time. Methods: This was a retrospective analysis of de-identified data for NAFLD patients from the California Patient Discharge Database from 2006 to 2013. NAFLD patients were identified by ICD9 codes 571.40, 571.41, 571.49, 571.8, and 571.9. Results: NAFLD patients (n = 91,558) were predominantly female (60%), 45–65 years old (44%), and white (53%). Inpatient encounters increased from 8153 in 2006 to 16,457 in 2013 and were associated with a 207% increase in charges ($686 million in 2006 to $1.42 billion in 2013) and average increase in charges of 9.8% per year adjusting for inflation. Comorbidities (obesity, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, cardiovascular disease, other cancer, and renal disease) increased significantly over time (all P < 0.05). From 2006 to 2011, there were 11,463 deaths (1849 for liver-related hospitalizations) (mean follow-up 4.00 ± 2.13 years). The most significant predictors of death were age > 75 (aHR 3.9, P < 0.0001), male gender (aHR 1.10, P < 0.0001), white race (aHR 1.2, P < 0.0001), decompensated cirrhosis (aHR 2.1, P < 0.0001), and cancer other than HCC (aHR 3.2, P < 0.0001). Within the liver-related hospitalization cohort, mortality predictors were similar, except for Hispanic race (aHR 0.92, P < 0.0096) and renal disease (aHR 1.50, P < 0.0001). Conclusions: The number of NAFLD inpatient encounters increased significantly from 2006 to 2013, as did the inflation-adjusted inpatient charges. The most significant predictors of death were non-liver cancers (HR 3.11, P < 0.0001, CI 3.06–3.16) and age > 75 years (HR 3.94, P < 0.0001, HR 3.86–4.03).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)698-707
Number of pages10
JournalDigestive diseases and sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 15 2019


  • Economic burden of NAFLD
  • NAFLD comorbidities and mortality
  • NAFLD inpatient hospitalizations


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