Treatment of self-poisoning at a tertiary level hospital in Bangladesh: Cost to patients and government

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OBJECTIVES: Approximately 10,000 people die from suicide annually in Bangladesh, many from pesticide poisoning. We aimed to estimate financial costs to patients and health services of treating patients with self-poisoning.

METHODS: Data on direct costs to families, sources of funds for treatment and family wealth were collected prospectively over a one-month period in 2016 at the tertiary Chittagong Medical College Hospital, Bangladesh. Aggregate operational costs to the government were calculated using annual budget, bed occupancy and length-of-stay data.

RESULTS: Agrochemicals were the most common substances ingested (58(.) 8%). Median durations of stay and of illness were 2 and 5 days, respectively. Median total cost to patients was conservatively estimated at US$ 98(.) 40, highest in agrochemical poisoning (US$ 179(.) 50), with the greatest cost due to medicines and equipment. Misdiagnosis as organophosphorus poisoning in 17(.) 0% of agrochemical cases resulted in increased cost to patients. Only 51(.) 9% of patients had indicators of wealth; 78(.) 1% borrowed money to cover costs. Conservatively estimated median healthcare costs (US$ 21(.) 30 per patient) were markedly lower than costs to patients.

CONCLUSIONS: Cost to patients of treating a case of agrochemical poisoning was approximately three times the cost of one month's essential items basket. Incorrect diagnosis at admission cost families substantial sums of money and increased length-of-stay; it cost the national government an estimated US$ 80,428(.) 80 annually. Widespread access to a list of pesticides used in self-poisoning plus greater focus on training doctors to better manage different forms of agrochemical poisoning should reduce the financial burden to patients and healthcare systems. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTropical Medicine & International Health
Issue number12
Pages (from-to)1551-1560
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017

    Research areas

  • Journal Article

ID: 185405654