The common injury with devastating consequences for older Aussies

Only around 1 in 5 patients regain the mobility they had prior to the fracture.

It’s a common injury amongst older people, and while it sounds straightforward, its consequences are often devastating. 

A recent audit of the Australian and New Zealand Hip Fracture Registry (ANZHFR) found that large variations in care of hip fracture patients resulted in serious impacts to recovery and the ability to regain independence. 

According to ANZHFR, there were almost 22,000 hip fractures in Australia, bringing an enormous cost both for the health care system (at around $908 Million), and to the individual and family. 

And the problem isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, with the ageing population estimated to increase hip fractures to 30,000 annually in the next five years, at a cost exceeding $1 Billion. 

The financial cost is only one side of it though, with the cost to lives being much higher still. 

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Five per cent of hip fracture patients die in hospital, and a further 10 per cent will be discharged into an aged care facility. A whopping 50 per cent of sufferers will have a mobility-related disability 12 months following their initial injury, and astonishingly, up to 25 per cent will die in the year following discharge. 

Professor Ian Harris, Orthopaedic Surgeon and Co-Chair of ANZHFR said there’s a variation in care of hip fracture patients.

“Some of this variation between hospitals can markedly change the experience for the older person including how we manage their pain, timing of the surgery and the opportunity to start walking again after surgery,” Harris said.

“Data is a powerful driver of change in the health system. The Hip Fracture Registry is run by clinicians for clinicians and provides hospitals with real time performance data, allowing them to see how they perform against other hospitals.”

 Meanwhile, Professor Jacqueline Close, Geriatrician and Co-Chair of ANZHFR said there are opportunities to improve care and prevention. 

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“Strong evidence exists to support treatment of osteoporosis in this population yet there remains a care gap between what we are and should be doing,” she said. 

Close told the Sydney Morning Herald that Osteoporosis treatment was an important measure in preventing hip fractures, but it isn’t being offered widely enough, with the audit finding roughly 50 per cent of hip fracture patients had already suffered a low-trauma fracture previously, however only 20 per cent had been offered osteoporosis treatment.

“If we managed people who already had low-trauma fracture more efficiently we would make significant reduction to the rate of hip fracture in Australia,” Close said. 

Have you suffered a hip fracture, or have a relative who has?