Delaying Hip Fracture Surgery Can Increase Risk of Complications, Death: Study

Waiting to undergo surgery following a hip fracture may increase the risk of death, according to the findings of new research. 

In a study published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Canadian researchers indicate that the 30-day mortality risk increases for individuals who suffer a hip fracture and wait more than 24 hours to have surgery.

Hip fractures are known to be a particularly high health risk for the elderly, and often occur due to falls in nursing homes, private residents and other settings. The risk is sometimes increased by certain medications, and the fractures can result in loss of mobility and activity, and an increased risk of declining health and death.

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In this new study, researchers with the University of Toronto looked at population-based wait-time data in order to determine the best window for hip fracture surgery in order to prevent increased complication risks. Researchers collected data on more than 42,000 patients with hip fractures between April 1, 2009, and March 31, 2014 from 72 hospitals in Ontario, Canada.

According to the findings, the mean age of those who suffered hip fractures was about 80 years old. About seven percent of those patients died within 30 days.

Researchers found that the risk of complications increased among patients who had wait-times of longer than 24 hours between the time they suffered the hip fracture and when they underwent surgery. The risk of death increased as well.

Overall, patients who waited 24 hours or more for surgery following a hip fracture had more than double the risk of complications or death within 30 days. The type of complication suffered appeared to play no factor in those rates.

“Among adults undergoing hip fracture surgery, increased wait time was associated with a greater risk of 30-day mortality and other complications,” the researchers concluded. “A wait time of 24 hours may represent a threshold defining higher risk.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one in four people over the age of 65 fall each year. At least 29 million senior citizens fell in 2014 alone. About 20% of those falls leads to a serious injury, like a hip fracture or head injury.

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