Costs of occupational injury and illness within the health services sector

Int J Health Serv. 2005;35(2):343-59. doi: 10.2190/RNQ3-0C13-U09M-TENP.


Knowledge of costs is essential to allocate medical resources efficiently. The authors' goal was to estimate and compare costs across occupations, industries, gender, race, and types of nonfatal injuries and illnesses. This is an incidence study of nationwide data, 1993. Nonfatal incidence data were drawn from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Annual Survey. Medical costs were from the Detailed Claims Information data set. Productivity (wage) costs were calculated using the Current Population Survey. Pain and suffering costs were estimated from data on jury verdicts. Injuries and illnesses to nursing aides and orderlies cost 2,200 million dollars; costs were 900 million dollars for registered nurses and 40 million dollars for licensed practical nurses. The ranking of health services industries in terms of costs was: hospitals (52 percent of all costs), nursing care facilities (38 percent), home care services (6 percent), physicians' offices (4 percent), and laboratories (<1 percent). Types of injuries (sprains, strains, fractures) were similar across occupations and industries, but types of illness (carpal tunnel syndrome, respiratory diseases) varied. The most costly injured body parts were: back, shoulder, knee, wrist, and neck. Injuries and illnesses comprised roughly 90 percent and 10 percent, respectively, of total costs. The hospital industry was the third most expensive of 313 U.S. industries. Costs of occupational injury and illness in the health services industry were high and varied across occupation, industry, disease, race, and gender.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Occupational / economics
  • Accidents, Occupational / statistics & numerical data
  • Efficiency
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Health Care Sector / organization & administration*
  • Health Care Sector / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Expenditures / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Personnel / economics
  • Health Personnel / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Occupational Diseases / economics*
  • Quality of Life
  • Sex Factors
  • Workers' Compensation
  • Wounds and Injuries / economics*