Don’t delay hip-fracture surgery


Background: Guidelines from the American College of Surgeons and Canadian Institute for Health recommend hip fracture surgery within 48 hours. However, a time-to-surgery threshold after which mortality and complications are increased has not been determined. This study aims to determine a time to surgery threshold for hip-fracture surgery.

Study design: Retrospective cohort trial.

Setting: 72 hospitals in Ontario, Ca., during April 1, 2009-March 31, 2014.

Synopsis: Of the 42,230 adult patients in this study, 14,174 (33.6%) received hip-fracture surgery within 24 hours of emergency department arrival. A matched patient analysis of early surgery (within 24 hours of ED arrival) vs. delayed surgery determined that patients undergoing early operation experienced lower 30-day mortality (5.8% vs 6.5%) and fewer complications (myocardial infarction, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, and pneumonia). Major bleeding was not assessed as a complication. Also omitted from analysis were patients undergoing nonoperative hip-fracture management.

These findings suggest a time to surgery of 24 hours may represent a threshold defining higher risk. Two-thirds of patients in this study surpassed this threshold. Hospitalists seeing patients with hip fracture should balance time delay risks with the need for medical optimization.

Bottom line: Wait time greater than 24 hours for adults undergoing hip fracture surgery is associated with an increased risk of 30-day mortality and complications.

Citation: Pincus D et al. Association between wait time and 30-day mortality in adults undergoing hip fracture surgery. JAMA. 2017 Nov 28;318(20):1994-2003.

Dr. Moulder is assistant professor, University of Virginia Health System.

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