Background: To support injury control, we assessed the direct medical costs and indirect costs of injuries in the Netherlands, making use of recent advances in health economics.
Methods: We estimated the direct medical costs with the help of available data on health care utilization as a consequence of injuries. In our calculations of indirect costs, we used two alternative approaches. We used the traditional human-capital approach, which estimates the potential economic production losses caused by diseases or injuries. In addition, we applied the friction-costs method, which was recently developed as an attempt to measure the actual economic production losses to society.
Results: Injuries are an important source of medical costs and economic production losses. Almost two-thirds of the medical costs are the result of injuries among females (mainly domestic injuries of elderly women). On the contrary, independent of the method used, more than 80% of the indirect costs are the result of injuries among males (mainly caused by a high frequency of traffic injuries, occupational injuries, and sports injuries among young males). The application of the friction-costs method confirms the importance of injuries as a source of production losses in comparison with other diseases, showing that they belong to the main three causes of indirect costs to society.
Conclusions: Estimates of the medical costs and both the potential and actual economic production losses to society clearly demonstrate that injuries should be a major concern for health policy makers and the medical profession.