Early Hospital Release May Hurt Broken-Hip Patients

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WEDNESDAY, Feb. 25, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Older patients with a broken hip are more likely to die after the fracture if they're discharged from the hospital early, a new study indicates.

"Our results suggest that the continuous efforts to decrease length of stay after major surgery is associated with higher mortality after hospital discharge," Peter Nordstrom, of Umea University in Sweden, and colleagues wrote.

The researchers analyzed data from more than 116,000 people aged 50 and older in Sweden who were admitted to the hospital with a broken hip between 2006 and 2012. The patients' average age was about 82.

The average hospital stay for a broken hip in Sweden fell from about 14 days in 2006 to 11.6 days in 2012, the study authors said.

About 5 percent of the patients died during their hospital stay, 5.5 percent died within 30 days after leaving the hospital, and nearly 26 percent died within one year, the investigators found.

Age was the strongest predictor of dying within one year of hospital admission, the researchers said.

Study patients with a broken hip who were in the hospital for 5 days or less were twice as likely to die as those who stayed 15 days or more, according to the study published Feb. 24 in the journal BMJ.

In a related commentary, University of Toronto experts pointed out that "health care systems around the world are constantly urged to do more with less." But, they stressed, early discharge from the hospital needs to be considered on a patient-by-patient basis.

Groups of patients at higher risk of death in the current study included men and those with pre-existing lung, kidney and heart disease, the researchers found.

The study authors can't prove that the shorter hospital stays caused the patients' early death. But they suggested that fewer days in the hospital may mean less rehabilitation to help patients get back on their feet. A shorter stay also may reduce their access to further assessment and appropriate care, they noted.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine offers advice for hip fracture patients after they leave the hospital.