2013 Volume 51 Issue 5 Pages 463-471
Work injuries are a worldwide public health problem but little is known about their socioeconomic impact. This prospective longitudinal study estimates the direct health care costs and socioeconomic consequences of work injuries for 406 workers identified in the emergency departments of the two largest public hospitals in Salvador, Brazil, from June through September 2005. After hospital discharge workers were followed up monthly until their return to work. Most insured workers were unaware of their rights or of how to obtain insurance benefits (81.6%). Approximately half the cases suffered loss of earnings, and women were more frequently dismissed than men. The most frequently reported family consequences were: need for a family member to act as a caregiver and difficulties with daily expenses. Total costs were US$40,077.00 but individual costs varied widely, according to injury severity. Out-of-pocket costs accounted for the highest proportion of total costs (50.5%) and increased with severity (57.6%). Most out-of-pocket costs were related to transport and purchasing medicines and other wound care products. The second largest contribution (40.6%) came from the public National Health System − SUS. Employer participation was negligible. Health care funding must be discussed to alleviate the economic burden of work injuries on workers.