Acute costs and predictors of higher treatment costs for major paediatric trauma in New South Wales, Australia

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Abstract

Aims:

To describe the costs of acute trauma admissions for children aged ≤15 years in trauma centres; to identify predictors of higher treatment costs and quantify differences in actual and state-wide average cost in New South Wales (NSW), Australia.

Method:

Admitted trauma patient data provided by 12 trauma centres was linked with financial data for 2008–2009. Demographic, injury details and injury severity scores (ISS) were obtained from trauma registries. Individual patient costs, Australian Refined Diagnostic Related Groups (AR-DRG) and state-wide average costs were obtained. Actual costs incurred by each hospital were compared with state-wide AR-DRG average costs. Multivariate multiple linear regression identified predictors of cost.

Results:

There were 3493 patients with a total cost of AUD$20.2 million. Falls (AUD$6.7 million) and road trauma (AUD$4.4 million) had the highest total expenditure. The reduction in cost between ISS < 9 compared to ISS 9–12 and ISS > 12 was significant (P < 0.0001). The median cost of injury increased with every additional body region injured (P < 0.0001). For each additional day spent in hospital, there was an increased cost of AUD$1898 and patients admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) cost AUD$7358 more than patients not admitted to ICU. The total costs incurred by trauma centres were AUD$1.4 million above the NSW peer group average cost estimates.

Conclusions:

The high financial cost of paediatric patient treatment highlights the need to ensure prevention remains a priority in Australia. Hospitals tasked with providing trauma care should be appropriately funded and future funding models should consider trauma severity.

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