In a previous study of road traffic accidents the injuries identified as having the greatest long term effects were closed fractures of the limbs and "whiplash" injury. Because of their long term nature these injuries are likely to contribute significantly to the cost of non fatal injuries. A large proportion of this cost is not curently incorporated in national road accident costings because it results principally from the use of out-patient resources. This study was commissioned to identify the resources required to treat these injuries and to assess the costs involved both to the community and the individuals themselves. This report presents the results of the first year follow up of patients in the study. Amongst the principal conclusions, it was found that the disability rate was high for both types of injuries, 60 per cent of fracture patients and 44 per cent of "whiplash" patients having not recovered after one year. The average number of working days lost was also high for both groups; 72 days for fracture patients and 31 days for "whiplash" patients. Fracture patients also spent an average of one month in hospital and most of them later made frequent visits to a fracture clinic. Physiotherapy attendances were frequent, as was the use of mechanical aids such as cervical collars for "whiplash" patients. The use of ambulances by patients with these injuries provided an expensive drain on NHS resources being second only to in-patient stays in terms of overall cost. Statutory sick pay was claimed by just over half of these patients although relatively few patients claimed disability allowance. Just over one third of these patients lost some part of their income through time off work and approximately two thirds were seeking compensation. In addition to personal losses, days off work represented a loss to the community in terms of lost output and production and loss to the exchequer in terms of lost tax. The quantification of these factors will be a continuing aspect of this study.

Want to know more about this project?