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Prospective study of patients with injuries to the hand and forearm: costs, function, and general health.

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Department of Hand Surgery, Malmö University Hospital, Malmö, Sweden.


Patients with injured hands and forearms of varying severity [Hand Injury Severity Score (HISS)] were studied prospectively, including analysis of costs, hand/arm function (DASH), and health status (SF-36). Costs, duration of sick-leave, DASH-score (high score; impaired function) increased by severity of injury (higher HISS) and the greatest proportion of total costs resulted from lost production. Most employed patients returned to work within a year, but even minor injuries were expensive. HISS and costs of care during an emergency were significantly associated with duration of sick-leave, although HISS did not fully explain variation in costs and duration of sick-leave. DASH-score at one year was associated with variation in age, HISS, and residual health care costs. Results of DASH and subgroups for physical and bodily pain on SF-36 were consistent. Injuries to hand and forearm may generate high costs for society in terms of health care and long periods of sick-leave (lost production), but even minor injuries should be accounted for.

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