Study: Health care is costly for UK military amputees from Afghanistan

Researchers have calculated the cost of lifetime care for U.K. amputee veterans from the Afghanistan conflict to be approximately $444 million, according to recently published study findings.

The researchers studied the extent and nature of amputations on British service personnel injured while serving in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2014. They also measured the associated long-term health care costs to aid policy makers in preparing for veterans’ medical needs in the future.

The four-part methodology for the study included an analysis of previous studies on the cost of amputee care in the U.K., the use of an economic model to estimate the cost for long-term health care costs of veterans and a statistical cost comparison between British veterans from Afghanistan and veterans from previous conflicts. The study also included a retrospective investigation of trauma-related amputations recorded in the U.K. Joint Theatre Trauma and Prosthetic database.

Results showed a leading cause of amputation was roadside bombs or improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and that medical support for veteran amputees during an average remaining lifetime of 40 years would be approximately $444 million, including the cost of trauma care, rehabilitation and prostheses.

A total of 265 casualties sustained 416 amputations from the first roadside blast casualty in 2003 until the U.K. withdrew from the conflict in 2014, according to the researchers. Transfemoral amputations were the most common type caused by IEDs, with 153 casualties, followed by 143 transtibial amputations.

The researchers also calculated the base cost of 40 years life for single amputees was $1.34 million for transtibial amputees, $1.79 million for through-knee amputees and $1.79 million for transfemoral amputees.

The researchers concluded that, as a result of the high number of injuries experienced during this time period, a long-term facility to budget for veterans’ health care is necessary. – by Amanda Alexander

Disclosures: Edwards reports having received charitable funding from The Royal British Legion. Please see the full study for a list of all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.

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