Cost-Drivers in Acute Treatment of Severe Trauma in Europe: A Systematic Review of Literature

Pape, Hans-Christoph; Neugebauer, Edmund; Ridley, Saxon A.; Chiara, Osvaldo; Nielsen, Tina G.; Christensen, Michael C.
February 2009
European Journal of Trauma & Emergency Surgery;Feb2009, Vol. 35 Issue 1, p61
Academic Journal
Throughout the world, trauma is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the young and most active group of society. While specialist trauma centers play a critical role in the survival after severe trauma, the assessment of trauma-related costs, budgeting for adequate trauma capacity, and determining the cost-effectiveness of interventions in critical care are fraught with difficulties. Through a systematic review of the European literature on severe trauma, we aimed to identify the key elements that drive the costs of acute trauma care. A PubMed/MEDLINE search for articles relating the costs and economics of trauma was performed for the period January 1995 to July 2007. One hundred and seventy-three European publications were identified. Twelve publications were retrieved for complete review that provided original cost data, a breakdown of costs according to the different elements of trauma care, and focused on severe adult polytrauma. The identified publications presented studies from the UK (3), Germany (6), Italy (2), and Switzerland (1). In all publications reviewed, length of stay in the intensive care unit (ICU; 60%) and requirements for surgical interventions (≤ 25%) were the key drivers of hospital costs. The cost of transfusion during the initial rescue therapy can also be substantial, and in fact represented a significant portion of the overall cost of emergency and ICU care. Multiple injuries often require multiple surgical interventions, and prolonged ICU and hospital stay, and across all studies a clear relationship was observed between the severity of polytrauma injuries observed and overall treatment costs. While significant differences existed in the absolute costs of trauma care across countries, the key drivers of costs were remarkably similar. Irrespective of the idiosyncrasies of the national healthcare systems in Europe, severity of injury, length of stay in ICU, surgical interventions and transfusion requirements represent the key drivers of acute trauma care for severe injury.


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