Inpatient care for children with severe traumatic brain injury (sTBI) is expensive, with inpatient charges averaging over $70,000 per case (Hospital Inpatient, Children Only, National Statistics. Diagnoses– clinical classification software (CCS) principal diagnosis category 85 coma, stupor, and brain damage, and 233 intracranial injury. Diagnoses by Aggregate charges [https://hcupnet.ahrq.gov/#setup]). This ranks sTBI in the top quartile of pediatric conditions with the greatest inpatient costs (Hospital Inpatient, Children Only, National Statistics. Diagnoses– clinical classification software (CCS) principal diagnosis category 85 coma, stupor, and brain damage, and 233 intracranial injury. Diagnoses by Aggregate charges [https://hcupnet.ahrq.gov/#setup]). The Brain Trauma Foundation developed sTBI intensive care guidelines in 2003, with revisions in 2012 (Kochanek, Carney, et. al. PCCM 3:S1-S2, 2012). These guidelines have been widely disseminated, and are associated with improved health outcomes (Pineda, Leonard. et. al. LN 12:45-52, 2013), yet research on the cost of associated hospital care is limited. The objective of this study was to assess the costs of providing hospital care to sTBI patients through a guideline-based Pediatric Neurocritical Care Program (PNCP) implemented at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, a pediatric academic medical center in the Midwest United States.
This is a retrospective cohort study. We used multi-level regression to estimate pre−/post−implementation effects of the PNCP program on inflation adjusted total cost of in-hospital sTBI care. The study population included 58 pediatric patient discharges in the pre-PNCP implementation group (July 15, 1999 - September 17, 2005), and 59 post-implementation patient discharges (September 18, 2005 - January 15, 2012).
Implementation of the PNCP was associated with a non-significant difference in the cost of care between the pre- and post-implementation periods (eβ = 1.028, p = 0.687).
Implementation of the PNCP to support delivery of guideline-based care for children with sTBI did not change the total per-patient cost of in-hospital care. A key strength of this study was its use of hospital cost data rather than charges. Future research should consider the longitudinal post-hospitalization costs of this approach to sTBI care.