Objective: Osteoporosis-related costs are now considered a major burden for health authorities in most developed countries. An accurate and exhaustive evaluation of these costs would be a major contribution to health economic studies evaluating the efficiency of screening and prevention strategies. Osteoporosis is the most frequent underlying cause of femoral neck fractures in the elderly; these fractures weigh heavily on healthcare budgets. However, in Belgium, very few data on the financial burden of hip fractures are available and no updated estimates have been made. The goal of this paper is to estimate the direct medical expenditures associated with hip fractures in Belgium in 1996.
Design and setting: This 1-year population-based cross-sectional study is conducted from the social security perspective. The target population in this study are men and women aged 60 years and over.
Patients and participants: We selected patients who had been hospitalised for a hip fracture during the year 1996 who were also affiliated with a registered social security organisation (covering 25% of the Belgian population). The sample constituted 2374 patients.
Interventions: For each of these patients, we collected an exhaustive and detailed list of healthcare resource use as well as nursing home admissions following the hip fracture event. Cost items investigated in the analysis were inpatient hospital costs and outpatient costs. Mean annual costs per case recorded in the sample were then extrapolated to the whole country on the basis of an exhaustive list of diagnoses having lead to all countrywide hospitalisations (1700000 hospital stays/year).
Main outcome measures and results: The mean hospital inpatient costs for hip fracture were evaluated at 332 148 Belgian francs (BeF) [$US8977] per case and BeF4 367 746 200 ($US118 047 194) for the whole country (10 million inhabitants). Patients with a hip fracture experienced an annual BeF27 825 ($US752) extra outpatient cost during the year following this fracture event, after correcting for costs related to additional comorbidity already present before the hip fracture. Finally, after a proximal femoral neck fracture, the rate of nursing home admission was higher, both for men and women at any age compared with age- and gendermatched population.
Conclusions: With a total cost (acute hospital and outpatient costs) of BeF4 667 894 950 ($US126 159 323) per year in Belgium, proximal femoral neck fracture should be considered a major health economic problem and appropriate measures to prevent this disease should be rapidly undertaken.