The national clinical audit of falls and bone health: the clinical management of hip fracture patients

Youde, Jane, Husk, Janet, Lowe, Derek, Grant, Robert, Potter, Jonathan and Martin, Finbarr (2009) The national clinical audit of falls and bone health: the clinical management of hip fracture patients. Injury, 40(11), pp. 1226-1230. ISSN (print) 0020-1383


BACKGROUND: The standards of care for older people who present with a fractured neck of femur (#NOF) have been defined by previously published national guidelines. To assess compliance with these standards the Healthcare Commission commissioned the Clinical Effectiveness and Evaluation Unit (CEEU) for the Royal College of Physicians to deliver 'The National Clinical Audit of Falls and Bone Health for Older People'. METHODS: The audit was developed by a multi-disciplinary team using available best evidence to set audit standards. All acute hospital trusts admitting orthopaedic trauma cases and all primary care trusts (PCTs) in England were recruited. Patients >65 years old presenting with a proven #NOF were included in the audit with a target of 20 cases per participating site. RESULTS: Data was entered for 3184 #NOF patients. 80% (2555/3184) were female with a median age of 83 years admitted from their own home (68% 2152/3184). Over 97% (3172/3184) presented to the A&E department on the same day as the fall (88% 2813/3184). The time in the A&E department was less than 2h in only 20% (640/3133) of cases with 23% (716/3133) having a stay of >240min. 35% (1080/3088) of #NOF patients were operated on within 24h of admission. Causes of delay to theatre included awaiting medical review (59% 566/956) or organisational reasons (29% 278/956). 48% (1480/2998) of patients were sat out of bed within 24h. Only 35% (1115/3184) of patients were cared for in an orthogeriatric setting. The median length of stay for the #NOF patients was 16 days with an interquartile range of 10-27 days. CONCLUSIONS: There are currently unacceptable wide variations in the delivery of clinical care to older people presenting with a #NOF. Of concern were the long lengths of time in A&E for many patients and the low level of routine access to pre-operative medical assessment. It is hoped that the launch of joint initiatives between the British Orthopaedic Association and the British Geriatric Society aimed at delivering service improvements in this area should lead to improved outcomes.

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