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Medical costs of delayed hip fracture surgery

Pincus D, Wasserstein D, Ravi B, Huang A, Paterson JM, Jenkinson RJ, Kreder HJ, Nathens AB, Wodchis WP. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2018; 100(16):1387-96. Epub 2018 Aug 15.


Background — Waiting for hip fracture surgery is associated with complications. The objective of this study was to determine whether waiting for hip fracture surgery is associated with health-care costs.

Methods — We conducted a population-based, propensity-matched cohort study of patients treated between 2009 and 2014 in Ontario, Canada. The primary exposure was early hip fracture surgery, performed within 24 hours after arrival at the emergency department. The primary outcome was direct medical costs, estimated for each patient in 2013 Canadian dollars, from the payer perspective. The costs in the early and delayed groups were then compared using a difference-in-differences approach: the baseline cost in the year prior to the hip fracture that had been accrued by patients with early surgery was subtracted from the cost in the first year following the surgery (first difference), and the difference was then compared with the same difference among propensity-score-matched patients who had received delayed surgery (second difference). The secondary outcome was the postoperative length of stay (in days).

Results — The study included 42,230 patients who received hip fracture surgery from a total of 522 different surgeons at 72 hospitals. The mean cost (and standard deviation) attributed to the hip fracture was $39,497 ± $46,645 per person. The matched patients who underwent surgery after 24 hours had direct 1-year medical costs that were an average of $2,638 higher (95% confidence interval [CI] = $1,595 to $3,680, p < 0.0001) and a postoperative length of stay that was an average of 0.610 day longer (95% CI = 0.1749 to 1.0331 days, p = 0.0058) compared with those who underwent surgery within 24 hours.

Conclusions — Waiting >24 hours for hip fracture surgery was associated with increased medical costs and length of stay. Costs incurred by waiting may provide a financial incentive to mitigate delays in hip fracture surgery.


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