Cross-Sectional Evaluation of the Economic Burden on Patients Seeking Surgical Treatment for Chronic Nerve Injuries

John M. Felder, Ivica Ducic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: Little emphasis has been paid toward characterizing the socioeconomic burdens experienced by patients seeking treatment for chronic nerve injuries. The aim of this study was to characterize the direct and indirect costs faced by patients with chronic nerve injuries and their attendant health care utilization. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional survey was distributed to all patients (N = 767) from a single nerve surgeon's practice treated for chronic nerve injuries in the ambulatory setting between 2014 and 2020. Data collected included demographics, etiology, comorbidities, duration and severity of symptoms, history of prior medical and interventional treatments, work or school time lost due to injury or treatment, money spent on treatment, and health care utilization. Results: Of the 767 patients, 209 (27.2%) completed the survey. Average age was 48.8 (SD = 19.1) years, 68.9% female and 31.1% male. Patients with chronic nerve injury reported significant direct costs, indirect costs, and health care utilization associated with their nerve injury symptoms. Direct costs consisted of out-of-pocket spending (68.4% had spent >$1000 per year), physician specialists visits (71.3% had seen at least 4 specialists), and prior interventional procedures intended to address symptoms. Indirect costs included lost time from work or school (24.6% had missed more than 12 months). Health care utilization, represented by annual emergency room visits and hospitalizations related to nerve symptoms, was increased relative to the general population. Detailed statistics are presented in the manuscript. Conclusions: Chronic nerve injuries may be associated with a notable socioeconomic burden to the patient, including missed work or school, frequent physician visits and procedures, hospital visits, and out-of-pocket costs. Interdisciplinary algorithms recognizing a role for surgical evaluation in patients with chronic neuropathic pain due to underlying nerve injuries would facilitate future research into whether timely surgical intervention may reduce this economic burden.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)200-207
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Plastic Surgery
Volume88
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022

Keywords

  • Chronic pain
  • Compression neuropathy
  • Economics
  • Health care costs
  • Migraine headache
  • Nerve injury
  • Nerve surgery
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Neuropathy

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