The hospital cost of road traffic accidents at a South African regional trauma centre: a micro-costing study

Injury. 2014 Jan;45(1):342-5. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2013.04.007. Epub 2013 Jun 2.


Background: Road traffic crashes are responsible for a vast amount of death and disability in developing countries. This study uses a bottom up, micro-costing approach to determine the cost of road traffic related crashes in South Africa.

Methods: Using the data from one hundred consecutive RTC related admissions to a regional hospital in South Africa we performed a bottom up costing study. To calculate costs patients were reviewed every 48 h and all interventions were recorded for each individual patient. Prices of interventions were obtained from hospital pricelists. A total cost was calculated on an individual basis.

Results: The total cost of in-patient care for these patients was US $6,98,850. Upper limb injuries were the most expensive, and the total cost increased with the number of body regions injured. The biggest expenditure was on ward overheads ($2,81,681). Ninety operations were performed - the total cost of theatre time was $1,48,230 and the cost of orthopaedic implants was $1,26,487.

Conclusion: The cost of care of a RTC victim is significant. In light of the high numbers of RTC victims admitted over the course of the year this is a significant cost burden for a regional hospital to bear. This cost must be taken into account when allocating hospital budgets.

Keywords: Bottom-up costing; Cost; Developing country; Micro-costing; Road traffic crashes.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / economics*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Costs and Cost Analysis / methods*
  • Female
  • Health Services / economics
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospital Costs*
  • Hospitalization / economics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • South Africa / epidemiology
  • Trauma Centers / economics*
  • Wounds and Injuries / economics*
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology
  • Young Adult