A hip fracture is not only a serious injury that befalls many elderly adults, it can often signal the advancement of underlying health problems and herald a sometimes rapid decline in wellness and independence. And in nearly 10 per cent of cases, patients will die within 30 days after suffering a hip fracture; almost 1 in 3 die in the following year.
More than 320,000 North Americans suffer a hip fracture each year, many of them elderly women. With a rapidly aging population, it is anticipated that more than 6 million hip fractures will occur annually worldwide by the year 2050 and yet the standard of care for hip fractures has remained largely unchanged over the past 30 years.
Recent studies, presented in part at a recent American Geriatric Society meeting, have found that a shared care approach to patient care following hip repair significantly reduced in-hospital mortality, long-term mortality and length of stay in hospital. Instead of remaining under the care of a single orthopedic surgeon, elderly patients who received care from geriatric, palliative care and rehabilitation specialists in addition to their surgeon had their risk of dying while in hospital reduced by 40 per cent.
Large scale clinical trials of a multidisciplinary approach to hip fracture care also demonstrated a reduction in long term risk for death by 17 per cent and lowered the chances for developing complications such as pneumonia and delirium. Patients under the care of a team of specialists also returned to mobility faster.
While the staffing costs of a shared care approach may be initially more expensive, over time the reduction in length of hospital stays, return hospital visits and complications offers the potential of saving money as well as lives.
To learn more about geriatric hip fracture centers, follow this link to the journal Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, published by the Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons.