Average medical cost of fatal and non-fatal injuries by type in the USA

Inj Prev. 2021 Feb;27(1):24-33. doi: 10.1136/injuryprev-2019-043544. Epub 2019 Dec 30.


Objective: To estimate the average medical care cost of fatal and non-fatal injuries in the USA comprehensively by injury type.

Methods: The attributable cost of injuries was estimated by mechanism (eg, fall), intent (eg, unintentional), body region (eg, head and neck) and nature of injury (eg, fracture) among patients injured from 1 October 2014 to 30 September 2015. The cost of fatal injuries was the multivariable regression-adjusted average among patients who died in hospital emergency departments (EDs) or inpatient settings as reported in the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Nationwide Emergency Department Sample and National Inpatient Sample, controlling for demographic (eg, age), clinical (eg, comorbidities) and health insurance (eg, Medicaid) factors. The 1-year attributable cost of non-fatal injuries was assessed among patients with ED-treated injuries using MarketScan medical claims data. Multivariable regression models compared total medical payments (inpatient, outpatient, drugs) among non-fatal injury patients versus matched controls during the year following injury patients' ED visit, controlling for demographic, clinical and insurance factors. All costs are 2015 US dollars.

Results: The average medical cost of all fatal injuries was approximately $6880 and $41 570 per ED-based and hospital-based patient, respectively (range by injury type: $4764-$10 289 and $31 912-$95 295). The average attributable 1-year cost of all non-fatal injuries per person initially treated in an ED was approximately $6620 (range by injury type: $1698-$80 172).

Conclusions and relevance: Injuries are costly and preventable. Accurate estimates of attributable medical care costs are important to monitor the economic burden of injuries and help to prioritise cost-effective public health prevention activities.

Keywords: barell matrix; costs; mechanism.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Health
  • Medicaid
  • United States / epidemiology