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Earlier hip fracture surgery could save hundreds of lives

Posted: 25/04/2017

Research into patient data undertaken by a team at Southmead Hospital in Bristol has found that hundreds of deaths could be avoided if hip fractures were operated on with 36 hours of admission.

Hip fractures are relatively common and often result in patients needing surgery to repair the damage. Current guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence state that hip fracture patients should be admitted to hospital on the day the fracture occurs or the day after.

The new study is based on data from the National Hip Fracture Database, which includes details from over 240,000 hip fracture cases in England and Wales from 2011 to 2014. It found that there was a significant increase in the number of patient deaths if surgery to repair the hip fracture was delayed.

A delay of even 12 hours increased the risk, with an 8% increase in the number of patient deaths among those operated on between 24 and 36 hours compared to those undergoing surgery in the first 24 hours. This rose to 20% where surgery took longer than 48 hours to arrange.

In the four year period covering the data studied, the report’s authors estimate that 670 deaths could have been avoided had earlier surgery been performed.

Andrew Clayton of Penningtons Manches’ clinical negligence team comments: “We advise a significant number of patients who have poor outcomes following orthopaedic injuries and hip fractures are a common cause for complaint. Patients in later life are particularly at risk, often already struggling with issues of mobility and wider health. While these factors can mean that surgery sometimes has to be delayed, it is clear that surgeons should be looking to operate as soon as they possibly can to repair hip fractures to maximise the odds for these patients. The NICE guidelines for admissions go part way to addressing how patients should be treated, but this latest research suggests more can be done to stipulate the optimum timeframes for surgery.”

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