Description and cost-analysis of emergency department attendances for hand and wrist injuries

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Background: Injuries to the hand and wrist are estimated to account for between 10% and 30% of all ED presentations. The economic burden placed on the healthcare system can be extensive and rise sharply with increase in injury severity. Objectives: This cost-analysis was performed with the aim of estimating the economic implications of ED attendances for hand and wrist injuries from the perspective of one Australian public health network. Methods: Data from two EDs were retrieved from the electronic billing records of one large health network across two financial year periods (2014–2015 and 2015–2016) using ICD-10 codes. All costs that resulted from the treatment of any acute hand or wrist injury across the 2 year period were calculated and are presented by age, sex, injury type and mechanism of injury. Results: A total of 10 024 individuals presented to the two EDs in the 2 year period, accounting for approximately 5.4% of all presentations. The most common presentations were males (62.2%), people aged 25–34 years (26.9%) and lacerations (31.2%). The total cost in the 2 year study period was $3 959 535.38 ($1 923 852.38 in 2014–2015; $2 035 683.00 in 2015–2016). The mean cost per presentation was $383 (95% CI [$373, $393]) in 2014–2015 and $407 (95% CI [$394, $421]) in 2015–2016. Conclusions: Acute hand and wrist injuries contribute to a significant volume of ED presentations each year in one Australian public health network leading to significant expenditure and health resources. Further research into how to best utilise resources and reduce avoidable injuries should be priority areas to reduce the cost of these injuries to the healthcare system and society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)772-779
Number of pages8
JournalEMA - Emergency Medicine Australasia
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019


  • cost-analysis
  • hand injury
  • health expenditure
  • healthcare cost
  • wrist injury

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