Study: Shorter hospital stays hike death risk, rehab problems after hip fracture

Older patients need longer hospital stays after hip fractures or risk premature death, researchers assert this week in the British Medical Journal.

Researchers based their findings on a review of more than 116,000 Swedish residents, aged 50 years and over, who had been admitted to a hospital with a hip fracture between 2006 and 2012.

Among their findings: Average length of hospital stay fell from 14.2 days in 2006 to 11.6 in 2012. Patients who stayed in the hospital for five or fewer days had twice the risk of death compared with patients staying 15 days or more. Patients had an average age of 82.2 years. Males and patients with existing lung, kidney and heart ailments comprised the highest risk group.

“Speedy discharge is not necessarily an unbridled good,” study authors wrote in the study, which was published Tuesday. “Premature discharges are associated with risks, including higher rates of readmission and possibly mortality." They added that shorter stays tended to reduce opportunities for rehab and vital medical staff assessments.