BACKGROUND: Emergency admissions in England for alcohol-related liver disease (ArLD) have increased steadily for decades. Statistics based on administrative data typically focus on the ArLD-specific code as the primary diagnosis and are therefore at risk of excluding ArLD admissions defined by other coding combinations. AIM: To deploy the Liverpool ArLD Algorithm (LAA), which accounts for alternative coding patterns (e.g., ArLD secondary diagnosis with alcohol/liver-related primary diagnosis), to national and local datasets in the context of studying trends in ArLD admissions before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: We applied the standard approach and LAA to Hospital Episode Statistics for England (2013-21). The algorithm was also deployed at 28 hospitals to discharge coding for emergency admissions during a common 7-day period in 2019 and 2020, in which eligible patient records were reviewed manually to verify the diagnosis and extract data. RESULTS: Nationally, LAA identified approximately 100% more monthly emergency admissions from 2013 to 2021 than the standard method. The annual number of ArLD-specific admissions increased by 30.4%. Of 39,667 admissions in 2020/21, only 19,949 were identified with standard approach, an estimated admission cost of £70 million in under-recorded cases. Within 28 local hospital datasets, 233 admissions were identified using the standard approach and a further 250 locally verified cases using the LAA (107% uplift). There was an 18% absolute increase in ArLD admissions in the seven-day evaluation period in 2020 versus 2019. There were no differences in disease severity or mortality, or in the proportion of admissions with decompensation of cirrhosis or alcoholic hepatitis. CONCLUSIONS: The LAA can be applied successfully to local and national datasets. It consistently identifies approximately 100% more cases than the standard coding approach. The algorithm has revealed the true extent of ArLD admissions. The pandemic has compounded a long-term rise in ArLD admissions and mortality.



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Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics



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Peninsula Medical School