Several thousand hip replacement surgeries take place in the UK each year, most commonly among individuals aged 60 to 80. While hip problems can arise due to a variety of underlying health conditions, most are correlated to a fall that causes a fracture or disease of the bone that is otherwise unpreventable. Hip operations of today are meant to reduce pain experienced by the patient, return them to a life of mobility and independence, and ensure years of hip joint functionality without additional issues. Unfortunately, not all elderly patients who undergo hip operations meet the same fate, according to a recent report.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, also known as NICE, recently published data on the success of hip operations in patients throughout the UK. According to the report, almost half of patients wait at least 36 hours to have a hip surgery performed after they are admitted to the hospital, despite a near-immediate recommendation for the procedure to take place. In some cases, patients waited several days before going under the knife, which has sparked widespread concern throughout patient and provide populations in England. Waiting longer than 24 hours to have a recommended hip surgery has led to a documented 670 deaths over the past four years, prompting NICE to provide clear guidance on when hip operations should be performed.
Shortly after the data was released on the extended wait times faced by nearly half of patients visiting the NHS for hip problems, NICE recommended that a hip operation be performed no later than 24 hours after the need for surgery is discovered. Reducing wait times for patients who are unable to undergo surgery quickly allows individuals a greater chance of surviving the surgery and the recovery process, long after they leave the operation table. Data suggests that 8% more patients passed away when a hip surgery took place between 24 and 36 hours after a surgical recommendation, compared to those patients who went through surgery in 24 hours or less. For those who were delayed 48 hours or more, the risk of death increased to 20% – a challenge that can be altogether avoided with improved wait times.
A representative from a medical negligence team in the UK agrees that the guidance from NICE is necessary to ensure the safety of patient care for those who are in need of hip surgery. Early treatment of hip fractures through surgery should be the norm among patients who are able to undergo surgery relatively quickly after hospital admittance. Delaying the procedure creates an environment where patients may experience unnecessary complications, like infections, blood clots, and ongoing pain and reduced mobility due to slow healing. Performing same-day procedures increases the probability that a patient will come out of surgery intact, and in the best possible health he or she can hope for.
An Easy Change
In its recent response to data showing increased death rates for delayed hip surgery patients, NICE provided some promising news for hospitals and surgeons throughout the UK. Today, nearly £2 billion is spent on hip fractures when both social care and medical care are added together. The high number is due in part to the number of patients seen for hip issues – one in six women along with some men each and every year. While the cost of treating hip fractures may seem high already, hospitals implementing the updated wait times for hip surgeries can expect to experience a decrease in the total care expenses. When surgeries are performed quickly after diagnosis, patients have a great chance of rehabilitating at home, without the need to visit the hospital again within a few short weeks or months post-procedure. This lifts a burden off the shoulders of hospital staff and providers, as well as improves the quality of life patients can expect after hip surgery.
With the number of elderly patients rapidly increasing within the UK, the recommendation for decreased wait times for hip surgeries could not come at a better time. As more patients are admitted to the hospital for hip issues and other underlying ailments, doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, and surgeons have a responsibility to come together promptly to create a plan of care and course of treatment that ensures the safe recovery and ongoing well-being of older patients.