Regional consolidation of orthopedic surgery: impacts on hip fracture surgery access and outcomes

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Abstract

Background

Timely access to orthopedic trauma surgery is essential for optimal outcomes. Regionalization of some types of surgery has shown positive effects on access, timeliness and outcomes. We investigated how the consolidation of orthopedic surgery in 1 Canadian health region affected patients requiring hip fracture surgery.

Methods

We retrieved administrative data on all regional emergency department visits for lower-extremity injury and all linked inpatient stays from January 2010 through March 2013, identifying 1885 hip-fracture surgeries. Statistical process control and interrupted time series analysis controlling for demographics and comorbidities were used to assess impacts on access (receipt of surgery within 48-h benchmark) and surgical outcomes (complications, in-hospital/30-d mortality, length of stay).

Results

There was a significant increase in the proportion of patients receiving surgery within the benchmark. Complication rates did not change, but there appeared to be some decrease in mortality (significant at 6 mo). Length of stay increased at a hospital that experienced a major increase in patient volume, perhaps reflecting challenges associated with patient flow.

Conclusion

Regionalization appeared to improve the timeliness of surgery and may have reduced mortality. The specific features of the present consolidation (including pre-existing interhospital performance variation and the introduction of daytime slates at the referral hospital) should be considered when interpreting the findings.

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