By: Joann Schulte, DO, MPH
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Using a case-control methodology, Cora Peterson and her co-authors (doi: 10.1542/ peds.2014-0117) estimated that a child who suffered abusive head trauma incurred medical expenses totaling $47,952 in the four years after the injury. For children covered by commercial insurance, estimated expenses were $38,321. Estimated expenses were higher for Medicaid patients at $56,691. Those estimated expenses did not include non-medical costs related to special education or disability.
The authors studied children aged 0 to 4 years and used regression modeling to simulate the direct medical costs. The cases and controls (five controls for each abused child) were identified in the Truven Health MarketScan database, which reports paid insurance claims and patient encounters, for the period of 2003 through 2011. Their modeling of direct medical costs was based on payments made for medical care.
Their study of the economic costs during a four-year period after abusive head trauma is a sobering analysis of the devastating consequences of what child abuse can produce.