Costs of occupational injury and illness within the health services sector

Geetha Waehrer, J Paul Leigh, Ted R. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Knowledge of costs is essential to allocate medical resources efficiently. The authors' goal was to estimate and compare costs across occupations, industries, gender, race, and types of nonfatal injuries and illnesses. This is an incidence study of nationwide data, 1993. Nonfatal incidence data were drawn from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Annual Survey. Medical costs were from the Detailed Claims Information data set. Productivity (wage) costs were calculated using the Current Population Survey. Pain and suffering costs were estimated from data on jury verdicts. Injuries and illnesses to nursing aides and orderlies cost $2,200 million; costs were $900 million for registered nurses and $40 million for licensed practical nurses. The ranking of health services industries in terms of costs was: hospitals (52 percent of all costs), nursing care facilities (38 percent), home care services (6 percent), physicians' offices (4 percent), and laboratories (<1 percent). Types of injuries (sprains, strains, fractures) were similar across occupations and industries, but types of illness (carpal tunnel syndrome, respiratory diseases) varied. The most costly injured body parts were: back, shoulder, knee, wrist, and neck. Injuries and illnesses comprised roughly 90 percent and 10 percent, respectively, of total costs. The hospital industry was the third most expensive of 313 U.S. industries. Costs of occupational injury and illness in the health services industry were high and varied across occupation, industry, disease, race, and gender.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-359
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Health Services
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Health Policy
  • Health(social science)
  • Health Professions(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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