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Use of a Novel Accounting and Grouping Method for Major Trunk Injury—Analysis of Data from a Statewide Trauma Financial Survey

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Major trunk trauma is common and costly, but comparisons of costs between trauma centers (TCs) are rare. Understanding cost is essential to improve quality, manage trauma service lines, and to facilitate institutional commitment for trauma. We have used results of a statewide trauma financial survey of Levels I to IV TC to develop a useful grouping method for costs and clinical characteristics of major trunk trauma. The trauma financial survey collected billing and clinical data on 75 per cent of the state trauma registry patients for fiscal year 2012. Cost was calculated by separately accounting for embedded costs of trauma response and verification, and then adjusting reasonable costs from the Medicare cost report for each TC. The cost-to-charge ratios were then recalculated and used to determine uniform cost estimates for each patient. From the 13,215 patients submitted for the survey, we selected 1,094 patients with major trunk trauma: lengths of stay ≥ 48 hours and a maximum injury of AIS ≥3 for either thorax or abdominal trauma. These patients were then divided into three Injury Severity Score (ISS) groups of 9 to 15, 16 to 24, or 25+ to stratify patients into similar injury groups for analysis of cost and cost drivers. For abdominal injury, average total cost for patients with ISS 9 to 15 was $17,429. Total cost and cost per day increased with severity of injury, with $51,585 being the total cost for those with ISS 25. Similar trends existed for thoracic injury. Use of the Medicare cost report and cost-to-charge ratios to compute uniform costs with an innovative grouping method applied to data collected across a statewide trauma system provides unique information regarding cost and outcomes, which affects quality improvement, trauma service line management, and decisions on TC participation.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Surgery, College of Medicine, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas, USA

Publication date: September 1, 2016

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