When a senior fractures a hip, a recent Wall Street Journal article points out the grim prognosis – a third or more die within one year and only about 1 in 5 return to their pre-injury level of function (“Hospitals Fast-Track Hip-Fracture Surgeries”). Fortunately, as explained in the article, a new approach is providing hope when older people suffer a hip fracture.
Traditionally, a patient suffering a hip fracture was deemed to be a non-emergency and surgery was often delayed up to three days. However, a review of more than 2 million patients found that compared with same day surgery, each additional day of delay was associated with a significantly higher overall complication rate and surgery two and three or more days after admission was associated with higher rates of death. According to Dr. Joseph Zuckerman, a co-author of the report, the higher death rate is due to a combination of “complications related to the hip fracture and surgery, and overall decline in health that seems to be hastened after hip surgery.”
More hospitals are now putting hip-fracture patients on a fast track from the emergency room to the operating room – in as little as six hours after diagnosis. With geriatric clinics handling the follow-up care, this approach appears to produce significantly better outcomes. Also, shorter hospital stays can reduce costs.
More research will be completed, but the early results are promising. If you or a loved one suffers a hip fracture requiring surgery, perhaps accelerated surgery can give you the best chance for a full recovery.