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Hand and wrist injuries most costly, says Dutch study

Hand and wrist injuries are very common when compared with other injuries. The high costs of these injuries are primarily related to the large number of injuries resulting in loss of labor productivity. The annual cost of hand and wrist injuries is USD 540 million. Researchers at Erasmus MC therefore urge for prevention and the development of treatment methods with a shorter recovery period. The study has been published in the American Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.

Hand and wrist injuries account for a significant share of the total number of emergency department visits in the Netherlands as well as worldwide. Erasmus MC researchers from the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the Public Health departments reviewed the number of these injuries sustained annually in the Netherlands and calculated the total cost of treatment and the loss of labor productivity.

The annual cost of hand and wrist injuries in the Netherlands is approximately USD 540 million, making them the most expensive injury type followed by knee and lower limb injuries (USD410 million), hip injuries (USD 388 million), and skull-brain injuries (USD 259 million). Productivity loss contributed more (56%) to the total costs of hand and wrist injuries than did the treatment costs. Among all the subtypes of injuries, finger, hand and wrist fractures were the most expensive, largely due to the productivity loss among patients aged between 20 and 65.

The researchers urge for improved prevention of these injuries and the development of treatment methods shortening the recovery time.

The researchers made use of data from the Dutch Injury Surveillance System (LIS), the national hospital discharge registry and a patient follow-up survey. Injury incidence, medical costs and loss of productivity were calculated.