What are the True Costs of Major Trauma?

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Background:This economic evaluation reports the results of a detailed study of the cost of major trauma treated at Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH), Australia.Methods:A bottom-up approach was used to collect and aggregate the direct and indirect costs generated by a sample of 30 inpatients treated for major trauma at PAH in 2004. Major trauma was defined as an admission for Multiple Significant Trauma with an Injury Severity Score >15. Direct and indirect costs were amalgamated from three sources, (1) PAH inpatient costs, (2) Medicare Australia, and (3) a survey instrument. Inpatient costs included the initial episode of inpatient care including clinical and outpatient services and any subsequent representations for ongoing-related medical treatment. Medicare Australia provided an itemized list of pharmaceutical and ambulatory goods and services. The survey instrument collected out-of-pocket expenses and opportunity cost of employment forgone. Inpatient data obtained from a publically funded trauma registry were used to control for any potential bias in our sample. Costs are reported in Australian dollars for 2004 and 2008.Results:The average direct and indirect costs of major trauma incurred up to 1-year postdischarge were estimated to be A$78,577 and A$24,273, respectively. The aggregate costs, for the State of Queensland, were estimated to range from A$86.1 million to $106.4 million in 2004 and from A$135 million to A$166.4 million in 2008.Conclusions:These results demonstrate that (1) the costs of major trauma are significantly higher than previously reported estimates and (2) the cost of readmissions increased inpatient costs by 38.1%.

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