Catastrophic Health Expenditures Associated With Open Reduction Internal Fixation of Distal Radius Fractures

Jessica I. Billig, Jody M. Law, Madison Brody, Katherine E. Cavanaugh, Christopher J. Dy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Distal radius fracture is one of the most common upper-extremity traumatic injuries. These injuries result in time off work and potential financial consequences for patients. Therefore, we aimed to understand the risk of catastrophic health expenditures (CHEs) after open reduction and internal fixation of distal radius fractures and examine the association between patient characteristics and the risk of CHE. Methods: We used data from patients undergoing open reduction and internal fixation of a distal radius fracture from a large, urban, level I trauma center (2018–2020). The risk of CHE was defined as out-of-pocket expenses of ≥40% of postsubsistence income. We used multivariable logistic regression to assess the impact of age, sex, race, and insurance status on the risk of CHE. Results: In our cohort of 394 patients, 121 patients (30.7%) were at risk of CHE after their distal radius fracture. After controlling for patient characteristics and insurance status, patients aged 26–34 years were 5.7 times more likely to be at risk of CHE (odds ratio, 5.73; 95% CI, 1.81–18.13) than patients aged ≥65 years. Patients who were uninsured were six times more likely to be at risk of CHE than patients with employer-sponsored health insurance (odds ratio, 6.02; 95% CI, 1.94–18.66). Lastly, non-White patients were at a higher risk of CHE (odds ratio, 3.63; 95% CI, 1.70–7.79) than White patients. Conclusions: Distal radius fractures are unexpected and place patients at risk of financial harm, with one in three patients at risk of CHEs. Policies aimed at minimizing cost-sharing after traumatic injury may help alleviate the financial consequences of health care delivery and reduce disparities. Type of study/level of evidence: Economic and Decision Analysis II.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)977-983
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2023


  • Catastrophic health expenditures
  • distal radius fractures
  • financial toxicity


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