Use of a novel accounting and grouping method for major trunk injury-analysis of data from a statewide trauma financial survey

Kyla D. Joubert*, Charles D. Mabry, Kyle J. Kalkwarf, Richard D. Betzold, Horace J. Spencer, Kara M. Spinks, Austin Porter, Saleema Karim, Ronald D. Robertson, Michael J. Sutherland, Robert T. Maxson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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 251 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)825-829
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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