The short-term cost of falls, poisonings and scalds occurring at home in children under 5 years old in England: multicentre longitudinal study

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Abstract

Background

Childhood falls, poisonings and scalds, occurring predominantly in the home, are an important public health problem, yet there is limited evidence on the costs of these injuries to individuals and society.

Objectives

To estimate National Health Service (NHS) and child and family costs of falls, poisonings and scalds.

Methods

We undertook a multicentre longitudinal study of falls, poisonings and scalds in children under 5 years old, set in acute NHS Trusts across four UK study centres. Data from parental self-reported questionnaires on health service resource use, family costs and expenditure were combined with unit cost data from published sources to calculate average cost for participants and injury mechanism.

Results

344 parents completed resource use questionnaires until their child recovered from their injury or until 12 months, whichever came soonest. Most injuries were minor, with >95% recovering within 2 weeks, and 99% within 1 month of the injury. 61% emergency department (ED) attendees were not admitted, 35% admitted for ≤1 day and 4% admitted for ≥2 days. The typical healthcare cost of an admission for ≥2 days was estimated at £2000–3000, for an admission for ≤1 day was £700–1000 and for an ED attendance without admission was £100–180. Family costs were considerable and varied across injury mechanisms. Of all injuries, scalds accrued highest healthcare and family costs.

Conclusions

Falls, poisonings and scalds incur considerable short-term healthcare and family costs. These data can inform injury prevention policy and commissioning of preventive services.

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