Elderly patients with hip fractures may get better care at smaller hospitals, a new study suggests.
Seniors with hip fractures waited longer for surgery and were more likely to be rehospitalized if they were treated at a major trauma center than if they went to a smaller emergency room, researchers found.
Seniors in so-called level 1 trauma centers were also more likely to develop blood clots in their legs, compared to their peers who were treated in settings designed for less serious injuries, the researchers write in Medical Care.
Level 1 trauma centers have the resources to treat very serious injuries, said lead author Dr. David Metcalfe of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
“However, because they care for the most complex patients, these hospitals are often very busy. There is therefore a risk that some groups of patients might be disadvantaged or ‘lost’ in the system,” Metcalfe told Reuters Health by email.
For example, patients with multiple injuries or bones breaking through skin may be treated before seniors with hip fractures.
Each year in the U.S. alone, more than 250,000 people aged 65 and older are hospitalized for hip fractures, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The study team used statewide data from California on 91,401 seniors hospitalized between 2007 and 2011. All were over age 65 and had surgery for hip fractures.
Overall, six percent were treated at a level 1 trauma center, 18 percent at a level 2 trauma center (where very seriously injured patients can be stabilized), and 70 percent in a non-trauma center.
Click here to read the full story by Madeline Kennedy, Reuters Health.