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The Cost of Hand and Wrist Injuries

The Cost of Hand and Wrist Injuries

More than 2 million people visited U.S. emergency rooms for symptoms related to the hand and wrist in 2009. Now, researchers in the Netherlands have found that in addition to being pervasive, hand and wrist injuries also are one of the most costly injury types.

According to a new study appearing in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, hand and wrist injuries represent the most expensive type of injury in the Netherlands, costing about $740 million U.S. dollars annually.

The study, "Economic Impact of Hand and Wrist Injuries: Health-Care Costs and Productivity Costs in a Population Study," examined the frequency, cost of treatment and lost productivity associated with hand and wrist injuries and compared them to other emergency department injuries.

Researchers found that hand and wrist injuries cost the most at $740 million a year while knee and lower limb fractures cost $562 million annually, skull-brain injuries cost $355 million and hip fractures cost $532 million. Productivity costs contributed more to the total costs of hand and wrist injuries (56 percent) than did costs for treatment and care.

Among the subtypes of hand and wrist injuries, hand and finger fractures were the most expensive. Those injuries cost approximately $278 million each year, largely due to loss of productivity in patients 20 to 64 years of age.

"Hand and wrist injuries not only constitute a substantial part of all treated injuries but also represent a considerable economic burden, with both high health-care and productivity costs," researchers concluded. "Hand and wrist injuries should be a priority area for research in trauma care, and further research could help to reduce the cost of these injuries, both to the health-care system and to society."

Investigators reviewed data from the Dutch Injury Surveillance System, the National Hospital Discharge Registry and a patient follow-up survey from 2007 and 2008.
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