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Nursing home residents face dire consequences with hip fractures

New reports include disturbing news for elderly patients with hip injuries at nursing homes. Statistics show that Illinois is just one state with nursing home patients who suffered from hip fractures who will either die or lose self-mobility within a half year of their fractures.

Statistics from one major study were derived from information from 2005 to 2009, based on Medicare claims and nursing homes across the nation on over 60,000 residents. The study found patients over 90 who did not have the surgery on a hip fracture because overwhelmingly disabled or died. One third of patients who had been in the hospital for six months died. 

Of those who survived, almost 30 percent were unable to move about on their own and experienced declines in personal hygiene and toileting abilities. Tragically, by the conclusion of the study, almost 50 percent of the residents were already dead. Those over the age of 90 suffered worse outcomes than younger patients.

While numbers are not clear if patients opted out of surgery or were offered the procedures as a viable option, it appears that those not getting surgery carried a substantial risk of fatal outcomes or required more mobility assistance than those patients who had the surgery. Elective surgery should be a joint decision of patient, family and physician. The majority of older patients may choose surgery to repair a fracture, as this can be a feasible option to improve freedom of movement and quality of life.

Families of elderly patients in nursing homes should learn about the critical nature of hip fractures, especially as some older individuals are unable to make their own medical decisions. While medical decisions are carried out by health care providers in Illinois, they may not always in the best interests of the patient. In nursing homes, if you observe disturbing signs of deterioration or a decline in personal hygiene in an elderly resident, these factors can indicate nursing home neglect.

If your loved one exhibits signs that were previously not present, you should discuss these issues with a competent individual who can help determine if the symptoms are related to a hip injury or the result of other medical conditions. Elderly patients deserve the best care possible, and you can be the advocate for any family member or dear friend in a nursing home.

Source: Chicago Tribure, "Death or immobility often follows hip fractures in nursing homes," June 24, 2014

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