Hip fracture outcomes worse during busy periods
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Hip fractures are serious, especially for the elderly. Their chance of survival may depend on how busy the surgeons are with other emergency procedures. When the operating room is busy, 20 percent more of the patients die within 60 days after the operation, states researchers.

Surgeons can get especially busy during periods when the patient demand for surgery is high. In busy periods, hip fracture patients have to wait on average 20 percent longer before being operated on compared to the quiet periods. This wait can have serious consequences.

Information from more than 60,000 hip surgeries and all simultaneous emergency surgeries provided the research group with a solid numerical basis.

"We investigated how many older people over the age of 70 died during the first 60 days following a hip operation when particularly many emergency patients were queued up for surgery at the hospitals," say researchers.

During busy periods, 40 percent of the patients waiting in the operating wards are typically people who have recently been brought in for emergency surgery. In the quietest periods, the percentage can drop to 25 percent.

Older people often have to undergo surgery for hip fractures. The average age of hip surgery patients in the study was 85, with women making up 72 percent. The median wait time before being operated on was about 20 hours.

Older people naturally have a greater risk of dying than the average population has. Age is one reason why mortality is high following surgery.

"Prioritizing patients is part of a discussion about organizing emergency surgery. This could mean that doctors need to screen surgery hip fracture patients more than what's currently being done," says the surgeon.

The Bone & Joint Journal
Source: https://doi.org/10.1302/0301-620X.103B2.BJJ-2020-1581.R1