OBJECTIVES: To quantify the cost and distribution of health care resources consumed annually in management of Canadian children from birth to 4 years of age with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection. STUDY DESIGN: Estimates of direct medical expenditures (in 1993 U.S. dollars) were collected from a prospective cohort study of hospitalized children with RSV and from national and provincial databases. RESULTS: The annual cost of RSV-associated illness was almost $18 million. The largest component of direct expenditures (62%) was for inpatient care for the estimated 0.7% of all infected children ill enough to require admission. Physician fees comprised only 4% of inpatient expenses. Expenditures for ambulatory patients accounted for 38% of direct costs. CONCLUSIONS: The greatest reductions in the economic cost of RSV infections will be found in interventions that reduce duration of or prevent hospital stay. Costs for management of RSV infection in children in the Canadian health care system are considerably less than charges reported in the United States.
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