Home / Blog / Why Do Broken Hips Lead to Death?

A broken hip can be a very serious injury. As you get older, the risk of suffering a hip fracture increases substantially. Studies have shown that a third of adults aged over 50 years die within 12 months of suffering a hip fracture. Older adults’ chance of dying within the first three months of a hip fracture is five to eight times higher than younger individuals.

The results of breaking a hip cause severe disruption to the victim’s lifestyle. They experience loss of mobility and independence, combined with severe pain. The resulting inability to socialize often leads to increasing isolation.

Since full recovery from a hip fracture often takes six months to one year, there is a significant reduction in a person’s quality of life and an increasing dependency on others.

Some patients are obliged to move out of their homes and into residential care facilities. The longer recovery time for an elderly person combined with decreased morale contributes to the poor outcomes of a hip fracture after age 65.

What Are the Risk Factors for Hip Fractures?

While hip fractures can occur in any individual, they are most common in individuals who meet the following criteria. Higher risk factors of a hip fracture are also associated with an increased risk of death.

Age:

Broken hips are more likely to occur to those over the age of 65. Depending on the patient’s state of health, fractures may be caused by falls or blunt trauma, such as in a car accident.

Increased risk of falling:

Several factors may cause falls. Poor vision, trip hazards, frailty, and medication side effects can all contribute to elderly people falling and sustaining injuries. Dementia is also often cited as increasing the risk of falls.

●      Bone fragility:

Osteoporosis, which is recognized as exhibiting degradation of bone tissue and low bone mass, is another factor in hip fractures, particularly in older women. One in three women and one in five men sustain fractures because of bone fragility.

  • Prior fractures:

Previous fractures are also cited as an increased risk factor for future fractures. Research shows that roughly 30% of people with hip fractures have suffered a previous fracture—the heightened chance of experiencing a second fracture after your first one persists for up to 10 years.

An Increased Risk of Death

Most people who suffer a hip fracture undergo surgery, and sometimes a prosthetic device must be implanted. This procedure will usually require weeks or even months of physical therapy. Hip fracture surgery in the United States can cost tens of thousands of dollars in the U.S.

Heart disease, stroke, and pneumonia have all been shown to double the risk of death after a hip fracture. This enhanced risk remains for up to 10 years in women and 20 years in men.

In some cases, the medical team may decide not to operate as the risks are too great.

Factors that should be considered are pre-existing health conditions, the trauma of surgery, and the trauma caused by the fracture itself. Complications related to the fracture that cause death include infections, heart failure, stroke, or internal bleeding.

Issues surrounding surgery, such as hospitalization, and immobility after the fact, frequently lead to other complications. These further complications, such as sepsis, often result in death.

Ways to Improve Outcomes

Controlling post-surgery pain and symptoms, increasing independence, and providing prompt care is vital to improving patient outcomes.

  • Focus on mobility:

Patients should receive treatment aimed at restoring mobility. This may take the form of exercises to improve the range of motion, aquatic therapy, and strength and resistance exercises. Therapy should also include gait and balance exercises.

Even if a patient doesn’t undergo surgery following a hip fracture, therapy is necessary to get them moving and avoid the deadly complications of being immobile. 

  • Diligent care:

Case management is also critical to achieving good outcomes. Poor surgical wound care is a significant factor in death among hip fracture patients. This can be the result of poor aseptic standards and mismanagement of soft tissues known to cause sepsis.

  • Timely treatment:

Patients with broken hips should be treated as orthopedic emergencies. Delayed surgery can lead to severe complications and higher mortality rates.

Consult an Attorney if a Family Member Breaks a Hip

If a family member has died due to a hip fracture, seek legal advice as soon as possible. Their death may have been avoidable. Perhaps they received the wrong treatment, or the proper treatment was not given promptly. If they did not receive the expected level of care, you might have a compensation claim.

You may also be able to file damages if their broken hip was caused due the negligence of another party.

Contact the Indianapolis personal injury lawyers at Wagner Reese to arrange a free consultation to discuss your case and seek support during this challenging time.