OBJECTIVE. Although infants living in the north of Canada have been reported to have one of the highest rates of hospital admission for bronchiolitis in the world, the economic effects of this condition have not been reported. Passive immunization against the Respiratory Syncytial Virus, the most common causative agent of infant bronchiolitis, is available.
Methods: We tabulated transportation, in-hospital care and family accommodation costs for infants of less than 12 months of age residing in the Baffin Region of Nunavut aged who were admitted to Baffin Regional Hospital in Iqaluit, Nunavut, and the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa, Ontario, with a primary diagnosis of bronchiolitis or viral pneumonia, over a 36-month period, between April 1999 and March 2002.
Results: One hundred fifty-nine infants were admitted a total of 210 times, with 196 admissions to Baffin Regional Hospital, and 14 to the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, during the study period. The overall, annual, population-based admission rate for the Baffin Region of Nunavut was 197 admissions per thousand infants per year. Total costs were $2,997,373 ($2,357,747 for Baffin Regional Hospital, $639,625 for the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario). Overall average costs were $14,273 per admission, $12,029 for infants admitted to Baffin Regional Hospital and $45,688 for infants admitted to the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario.
Conclusions: Infant bronchiolitis in the Baffin Region of Nunavut represents a significant burden on the territorial health care system.