Are geriatric units needed for elderly patients with hip fractures?
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To assess the need for a multidisciplinary geriatric unit in the treatment of elderly patients with hip fractures, we reviewed the charts of all patients aged 60 years or older who were treated for hip fractures in five hospitals in Hamilton, Ont., between August 1982 and September 1983. We hypothesized that discharge to a different location from that before admission would indicate reduced functional status and classified the reasons for a change in residence as poor patient motivation, need for rehabilitation, compromised ambulation, postoperative complications and inevitable deterioration. We believed that geriatric care would be most beneficial to those in the first three groups. Of the 327 patients with hip fractures 40 (12%) died before discharge. Of the 287 surviving patients 149 (52%) had been discharged by 4 weeks, and only 29 (10%) remained in hospital by 12 weeks. Of the 287, 44 (15%) were discharged to a different location from that before admission: in 75% the cause appeared to be inevitable deterioration (57%) or postoperative complications (18%). The remaining 25% needed rehabilitation and were all sent to appropriate facilities. None of the patients with ambulation problems or poor motivation required an increased level of care. We could not show a need for geriatric care in our population; possible explanations are discussed.
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