Incidence and costs of family member hospitalization following injuries of workers' compensation claimants

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BackgroundThe consequences of occupational injuries for the health of family members have rarely been studied. We hypothesized that non-fatal occupational injury would increase the incidence and costs of hospitalization among workers' families, and that family members of severely injured workers would be likely to experience greater increases in hospitalizations than family members of non-severely injured workers.Data and MethodsWe used the MarketScan databases from Thomson Reuters for 2002–2005, which include workers' compensation and inpatient medical care claims data for injured workers' families. We used a before–after analysis to compare the odds and costs of family hospitalization 3 months before and after the index occupational injury among 18,411 families. Severe injuries were defined by receipt of indemnity payments and at least 7 days of lost work. Family hospitalizations were measured by the incidence of hospitalization of at least one family member.ResultsAmong families of all injured workers, the odds of at least one family member being hospitalized were 31% higher [95% confidence intervals (CI) = 1.11–1.55] in the 3 months following occupational injury than in the 3 months preceding injury. Among the families of severely injured workers, the odds of hospitalization were 56% higher [95% CI = 1.05–2.34] in the 3 months following injury. Hospitalization costs were found to rise by approximately the same percentage as hospitalization incidence.ConclusionThe impact of occupational injury may extend beyond the workplace and adversely affect the health and inpatient medical care use of family members. Am. J. Ind. Med. 55:1028–1036, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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