Given single-institution studies showing trends between after-hours hip fracture surgical procedures and adverse outcomes, as well as fixation time targets that may increasingly compel after-hours operations, we investigated the relationship between after-hours hip fracture surgical procedures and adverse outcomes in a large, population-based cohort.
All Ontarians who were ≥60 years of age and underwent a hip fracture surgical procedure between April 2002 and March 2014 were eligible for study inclusion. Data were obtained from linked health administrative databases. The primary exposure was after-hours provision of surgical procedures, occurring weekday evenings between the hours of 5 p.m. and 12 a.m. or over the weekend, but not overnight (after 12 a.m. to 7 a.m.). Surgical complications up to 6 months following a hip fracture surgical procedure comprised the primary outcome. Medical complications, including mortality, up to 90 days postoperatively were also assessed. Odds ratios (ORs) were calculated using a logistic regression model that accounted for clustering at the hospital level and adjusted for patient, provider, and fracture characteristics previously shown to explain the majority of variance in hip fracture outcomes.
During the study period, 87,647 patients underwent an isolated hip fracture surgical procedure; 51.2% of these patients had femoral neck fractures, 44.1% had intertrochanteric fractures, and 4.7% had subtrochanteric fractures. The surgical procedure occurred after hours in 59,562 patients (68.0%), and 27,240 patients (31.1%) underwent a surgical procedure during normal hours (7 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Only 845 patients (1%) underwent a surgical procedure overnight. We observed no significant relationships between timing of the surgical procedure and adverse outcomes, except for patients who had undergone an after-hours surgical procedure and had fewer inpatient surgical complications (OR, 0.90 [95% confidence interval, 0.83 to 0.99]; p = 0.01).
Adverse outcomes following a hip fracture surgical procedure were similar whether a surgical procedure occurred during normal hours or after hours. Concerns regarding the quality of after-hours surgical procedures should not influence hip fracture prioritization policy. However, given that the great majority of hip fracture surgical procedures occurred after hours, future research should examine other potential consequences of this practice, such as financial impact and surgeon burnout.
Level of Evidence:
Therapeutic Level III. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.