we set out to examine diurnal and seasonal variation in hip fracture presentations to question their origin and to consider their implications for the organisation of health services for older people.Methods
we used the National Hip Fracture Database to identify the time of presentation and surgery for 64,102 patients; all those older than 60 years who sustained this injury in England, Wales and Northern Ireland during 2014.Results
we found marked diurnal variation in rates of presentation, increasing sharply after 0800 hours and decreasing only after 1800 hours. Among people who sustained their hip fracture in hospital (n = 2,761) or in a care home (n = 12,141), there were peaks in presentations around 0900 and 1800 hours. Time of presentation had a very marked effect on whether surgery was delayed by more than 24 hours but less against the national guidelines of surgery within 36 hours or by the next day. There were 15.6% more presentations during December compared to all other months (9.5% versus 8.2%, P < 0.001), a pattern also found among people living in care homes (9.1% versus 8.3%, P < 0.001).Conclusions
we have identified morning and evening peaks of presentation for inpatients and care home residents and a December increase in overall hip fracture numbers. These patterns warrant further investigation if those organising health services are to prevent this injury, and to provide appropriate beds and prompt operations for the people who sustain it.