Background The objectives of this research were to determine the savings of loss-of-life expectancy (LE) and lifetime medical costs (LMC) from prevention of spinal cord injuries (SCI) in Taiwan. Methods From the claims database of Taiwan National Health Insurance, we identified 6164 adult patients with newly diagnosed SCI with permanent functional disability from 2000 to 2015 and followed them until the end of 2016. We estimated survival function through the Kaplan-Meier method and extrapolated it to lifetime. Results For the SCI cohort, the LE and loss-of-LE were 17.6 and 13.3 years, respectively, while those for SCI with coding of external causes (E-code) were 18.1 and 13.0 years, respectively. For the SCI cohort with E-code, the loss-of-LE of motor vehicle (MV)-related SCI was significantly higher than that of fall-related SCI. In young and middle-aged patients with SCI with E-code, the loss-of-LE of MV-related paraplegia was significantly higher than that of MV-related quadriplegia and fall-related SCI. With a 3% discount rate, the LMC for patients with SCI after diagnosis were US82 772, while those for patients with SCI with E-code were US81 473. The LMC and the cost per year for those living with quadriplegia were significantly higher than those for paraplegia in all age groups, possibly related to the higher frequencies of stroke, chronic lung disease and dementia. Conclusions We conclude that quadriplegia has a higher impact on medical costs than paraplegia, and MV-related SCI has a higher impact on loss-of-LE than fall-related SCI. We recommend comprehensive SCI prevention be established, including infrastructures of construction and transportation.
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