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J R Soc Med. 1994 February; 87(2): 83–86.
PMCID: PMC1294323

Resource implications of head injuries on an acute surgical unit.


Head injuries are expensive and demanding in terms of resources. In the UK, most are cared for outside neurosurgical centres. In the absence of specialist rehabilitation services, patients with on-going disability add to those admitted for observation and treatment on acute surgical wards. We audited the workload pattern and financial implications related to head injuries on a general surgical unit in a central London teaching hospital. Data collected prospectively at the time of admission and derived from departmental computerized information systems included clinical outcome, hospital stay and its relationship to severity of injury and other factors. Ward, departmental (accident and emergency (A & E), intensive therapy unit (ITU), radiology, and theatre) and neurosurgical referral costs were derived. Long-term social and rehabilitation costs were not calculated. Over a 6 month period 899 patients with head injuries were treated in the A & E department, of whom 156 were admitted. Of the admitted patients 68% were classified as minor; 22% as moderate; and 10% as severe head injuries. Fifty-one per cent of adult admissions were intoxicated by alcohol. Prolonged hospital stay was related to age, severity of head injury, mechanism of injury, associated injuries and preexisting neuropsychiatric conditions (including alcoholism). Six patients died. The direct cost of these head injuries patients was estimated at 173,500 pounds, during which time they occupied 7.6% of our unit's adult inpatient capacity. Twenty-four hour observation of 76 patients with minor head injuries contributed 9700 pounds (5.6%) to this figure. Associated extracranial injuries cost a further 46,500 pounds.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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Selected References

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