Based on the example of a cohort of patients treated at a regional Australian hospital, it is evident that many incident acute pancreatitis cases merit consideration as a chronic disease process, for a number of reasons:
• A considerable proportion of acute cases harbour underlying pancreatitis.
• An attack of severe acute pancreatitis may lead to long-term structural or functional impairment.
• Following an attack of acute pancreatitis, risk factors or precursors of chronic pancreatitis or recurrent acute pancreatitis may persist. As such, it is argued that cases of acute pancreatitis should by default be managed from the perspective of a chronic disease paradigm. A management strategy based on a prevention hierarchy is proposed.