Measuring the cost of care for children with acute burn injury.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


The journal of trauma and acute care surgery, Volume 73, Issue 3 Suppl 2, p.S229-33 (2012)


BACKGROUND: There have been few studies on costs of burn treatment. Furthermore, quantifying the actual cost of care at the patient level is hindered by anomalies of our insurance system. This article presents a practical method for determining the cost of caring for pediatric burn patients, using a cohort of patients from the Multi-Center Benchmarking Study at the Shriners Hospitals for Children-Boston and allows an estimate of resource use that may be linked to need or to best practices, without the confounding variable of inconsistent billing practices.

METHODS: We estimated the cost of hospitalization for a cohort of 230 pediatric patients who sustained burn injuries. In a simulation of billing patterns of all US hospitals between 2001 and 2009, we applied Shriners Hospitals for Children use data to two external sources of cost information. For the hospital component of costs, we used the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Kid's Inpatient Database, and for the physician component of costs, we used the Medicare fee schedule.

RESULTS: Patients had a mean of 1.9 hospitalizations over 3 to 4 years. The mean total cost of hospitalization was $83,535 per patient, and the median total cost was $16,331 in 2006 dollars.

CONCLUSION: This is the first effort to estimate the early hospital costs of caring for children and young adults with burns in specialty hospitals and to establish a referent for quantifying the cost of caring for patients with acute burns. It lays the groundwork for studies relating costs of specific interventions to their effects on patient-centered outcomes.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Economic analysis, level III.