Out-of-pocket emergency care cost at PGI cripples patients

  • Vishav Bharti, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Aug 10, 2015 10:23 IST

Expenditure on treatment at the Emergency of the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, is burning a deep hole in patients’ pockets. Average amount spent per admission to the hospital Emergency is around Rs 25,000.

This fact came to the fore when a recent study conducted by the School of Public Health of the PGIMER found out that high personal out-of-pocket expenditure for treatment of injury poses a major economic burden on families at the hospital.

The study titled ‘Estimation of the economic burden of injury in north India: A prospective cohort study’ was published in a special issue of the The Lancet, a weekly medical journal. The study was carried out on a total of 227 patients who had sought treatment at the Advanced Trauma Centre of the PGIMER. It was found that 30% patients were those for whom bearing the treatment cost was beyond their means and came as a catastrophic expenditure. A catastrophic expenditure is that which exceeds 30% of a patient’s annual household income and in which money is borrowed (with or without interest) or selling of assets is used to get treatment.


The study also observed that around 34% of the patients reported to suffer from distress due to expenditure on injuries at the Emergency. During the study, the patients were followed up at one month, two months and 12 months interval after discharge to collect information about outof-pocket expenditure. When the patients were followed for 12 months after injury, it was found that they spent around Rs 67,000.

The study found that money being spent from patient’s pocket for treatment of injury poses major economic burden on families. The study also found that most of the expenditure around 95% is incurred on drugs/procedure and diagnostics.

“Measures aimed to increase public health spending for prevention of injury and to provide financial risk protection to those injured deserve urgent priority,” said Dr Shankar Prinja of School of Public Health, PGIMER and who is one of the main authors of the study report. Among all the injured, 60% were road traffic injuries, 20% suffered injuries due to falls, 9.5% due to self-harm and assault and 5% were of burns and drowning (5%), and collision with animate and inanimate objects (5.5%) were main causes.

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