The Need for Early Hip Fracture Surgeries to Prevent Deaths


Posted on: 22 May 2017 by Jose Calvo

When hip surgery is not performed within 24 hours of a fracture diagnosis, one in three patients die within 12 months due to the extent of recovery needed post-procedure.

Fractures of the hip are common as people age, either due to bone deterioration or an unfortunate fall. Individuals between the ages of 60 and 80 are most likely to experience a hip fracture that requires a hip replacement surgery, and for most, the procedure offers an improved quality of life that makes normal daily activities less painful for at least 15 years. Advancements in medical care and the techniques used to perform a hip surgery have come leaps and bounds from decades past, providing hope for older patients throughout the world. However, delays in hip surgeries after a fracture create a situation where a restored quality of life is not altogether possible.

According to a recent study in the UK, half of patients wait more than 36 hours before a required hip surgery is performed after a fracture occurs. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence reports that some patients wait several days before undergoing necessary surgery to correct and ultimately replace a broken hip – a wait time that is far too long. Patient advocate groups across the UK are cautioning the NHS to improve wait times for hip surgery performed on older patients in order to improve outcomes.

A Call for Improvement

The recent research points to a glaring problem plaguing the health care system in England, ultimately proving detrimental to the health and well-being of elderly patients across the board. Individuals who wait to have hip surgery performed more than 24 hours after admission to the hospital and recommendation for the procedure is made are 8% more likely to pass away than those who receive prompt surgery same day. Over the course of four years, delayed surgeries have been linked to more than 670 deaths. This is because patients most likely to be diagnosed with a hip fracture and subsequently have a need for hip surgery are often in a frail state of health, and the complications that can arise from such an injury end up causing devastating results.

A leading medical negligence claim firm in the UK explains the importance of same-day hip operations, stating that early treatment is the best way to reduce tragedies among elderly patients who need surgery. Waiting an extended period of time between the recommendation for surgery and having the procedure completed leaves elderly patients at high risk of greater illness and death – both which can be avoided when the recommendations for operation within 24 hours after hospital admission are met consistently. Given the increased number of older patients in need of quality healthcare throughout the UK, the NHS must take steps to implement a shorter wait time to ensure a full recovery from surgery is indeed possible.

Implementing Wait Time Recommendations

Previously, the suggested time between a recommendation for hip surgery and when the operation was performed was no more than 48 hours, but in light of the recent findings, same-day surgeries are now pressed. A combination of faster surgery turnaround times combined with physiotherapy allow patients who need hip surgery to experience a greater chance of full recovery, shortening their hospital stay as well as getting them back to the quality of life they experienced before the fracture. Although hip fractures currently cost the NHS upwards of £2 billion per year when both medical and social care costs are added in, reducing the wait time between diagnosis and surgery will have little impact on the cost of care placed on the NHS in years to come. In fact, implementation of the same-day recommendation may have a positive impact on the bottom line of the health care system, given that a repeat visit to the hospital due to complications from surgery may be less likely when surgery is prompt.

After a patient presents to a hospital with a hip fracture and surgery is performed, it is imperative that the health care staff come together to create an actionable plan to help the individual down the path toward a healthy and safe recovery. The surgeon who performed the surgery, along with physicians, anesthetists, nurses, and physiotherapists can work together to develop a care plan that allows patients to improve mobility quickly. Without this collaborative approach to hip fractures, and a shortened wait time for injured patients in need of surgery, the NHS stands to deliver more negative reports of older individuals who were not able to heal properly post-procedure.


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