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Shorter hospital stays 'linked to higher mortality risk after hip fracture'

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Older patients are more likely to die following a hospital stay of less than 10 days after a hip fracture than for longer periods, according to a Swedish study.

Researchers noted that hospital bed shortages were now common and length of stay has generally decreased as a result.

The team, led by Peter Nordström from Umeå University, examined the effect of the length of stay in hospital on the risk of death following a hip fracture among older patients.

They looked at 116,111 Swedish residents, aged 50 years and over, who had been admitted to a hospital with a hip fracture from 2006-12.

Results showed that the average length of stay in hospital decreased from 14.2 days in 2006 to 11.6 days in 2012. Patients had an average age of 82.2 years.

Patients who stayed in hospital for up to five days had twice the risk of death, compared with patients staying 15 days or more, said the study authors.

“Our results suggest that the continuous efforts to decrease length of stay after major surgery is associated with higher mortality after hospital discharge,” they said in the British Medical Journal.

The groups at highest risk of death included men, and patients with pre-existing lung, kidney, and heart disease.

Overall, 5% of patients died during hospital stay, 5.5% within 30 days of discharge and 25.9% within one year after fracture.

A shorter hospital stay may reduce opportunities for rehabilitation, for example, and may limit time spent with clinical staff or on further assessment and appropriate care, suggest the authors.

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