The medical and retrieval costs of road crashes in rural and remote northern Queensland, 2004-2007: findings from the Rural and Remote Road Safety Study

Med J Aust. 2009 Jan 19;190(2):54-6. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2009.tb02274.x.


Objective: To estimate costs of retrieval, transport and acute medical services associated with road crashes in northern Queensland from March 2004 to June 2007.

Design, setting and participants: Case study of 696 people aged 16 years or older who had been involved in a road crash in the study area (all areas north and west of Bowen, excluding the urban areas of Townsville and Cairns) and had been admitted to hospital for a minimum of 24 hours after the crash. Data on mode of retrieval, acute care provided and total costs were obtained for each patient.

Main outcome measures: Method of retrieval or transport; length of stay in intensive care unit (ICU) and/or hospital for each patient; costs of retrieval, transport and inhospital care.

Results: Retrieval data were collected for 614 of the 696 study participants (88%). Most primary retrievals (446; 73%) occurred by road. More than half of interhospital transfers were undertaken by fixed or rotary wing services. Casualties in the study occupied a total of 6360 bed-days, of which 734 were ICU bed-days. The total retrieval, transport and acute hospital care costs of road crash victims in northern Queensland over the study period were calculated to be approximately $10.4 million.

Conclusion: The costs associated with rural and remote road crashes in northern Queensland represent a considerable economic burden.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / economics*
  • Critical Care / economics*
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Hospitalization / economics*
  • Humans
  • Queensland
  • Rural Health*
  • Transportation of Patients / economics*
  • Wounds and Injuries / economics
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy