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Direct costs of adult traumatic spinal cord injury in Ontario

Munce SE, Wodchis WP, Guilcher SJ, Couris CM, Verrier M, Fung K, Craven BC, Jaglal SB. Spinal Cord. 2013; 51(1):64-9. Epub 2012 Jul 17.

Study design — Retrospective economic analysis.

Objectives — To determine the total direct costs of publicly funded health care utilization for the three fiscal years 2003/04 to 2005/06 (1 April 2003 to 31 March 2004 to 1 April 2005 to 31 March 2006), from the time of initial hospitalization to 1 year after initial acute discharge among individuals with traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI).

Setting — Ontario, Canada.

Methods — Health system costs were calculated for 559 individuals with traumatic SCI (C1-T12 AIS A-D) for acute inpatient, emergency department, inpatient rehabilitation (that is, short-stay inpatient rehabilitation), complex continuing care (CCC) (i.e., long-stay inpatient rehabilitation), home care services, and physician visits in the year after index hospitalization. All care costs were calculated from the government payer's perspective, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

Results — Total direct costs of health care utilization in this traumatic SCI population (including the acute care costs of the index event and inpatient readmission in the following year after the index discharge) were substantial: $102,900 per person in 2003/04, $100,476 in 2004/05 and $123,674 in 2005/06 Canadian Dollars (2005 CDN $). The largest cost driver to the health care system was inpatient rehabilitation care. From 2003/04 to 2005/06, the average per person cost of rehabilitation was approximately three times the average per person costs of inpatient acute care.

Conclusion — The high costs and long length of stay in inpatient rehabilitation are important system cost drivers, emphasizing the need to evaluate treatment efficacy and subsequent health outcomes in the inpatient rehabilitation setting.

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Keywords: Musculoskeletal and joint diseases Trauma Health care costs