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Survey Assesses Management of Liver Transplant Patients

Respondents call for more primary care involvement in treating metabolic complications

MONDAY, Oct. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Hepatologists overwhelmingly agree that primary care physicians should play a more active part in the management of common metabolic complications in liver transplant patients, according to a study published in the October issue of Liver Transplantation.

J. Christie Heller, M.D., of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, and colleagues mailed surveys to 280 transplant hepatologists, of whom 68.2 percent responded, to determine their perceptions, attitudes and practice patterns in the management of metabolic complications after liver transplant surgery.

The researchers note that 66 percent of respondents reported that hepatologists were mostly responsible for overall patient care at least one year after transplantation, while considerably fewer respondents reported that either primary care physicians or surgeons were mostly responsible (24 and 8 percent, respectively). Few respondents strongly agreed that metabolic complications such as hypertension, chronic renal insufficiency, diabetes, dyslipidemia, and bone disease were well controlled, with about three-quarters of them saying primary care physicians should be managing these conditions, and between 38 and 51.4 percent saying primary care physicians are managing each of these conditions less frequently.

"Even though this study was based on perceptions rather than hard data, it will most likely serve as a basis for future studies that address the real prevalence of metabolic complications post-liver transplantation, the adequacy of treatment, and the identification of the barriers to care for the treatment of these metabolic complications," states the author of an accompanying editorial.

The study was partly funded by an American Society of Transplantation/Schering Plough Women and Minority Career Development Faculty Grant.

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