Mending broken hips - our fractured neck of femur work

One of the problems we face as we get older is the risk of breaking our hip if we fall – what we would call ‘fracturing the neck of the femur’.

The femur is the thigh bone and the break can happen at the top end near our hip. Most of these breaks happen in the over eighties and are more likely in women than in men.

Surgery is needed to fix the break or to replace the hip with an artificial version (sometimes just part of the hip is replaced).

The specialist team of surgeons, nurses and therapists in our orthopaedic department know the importance of treating patients with broken hips urgently. For example, making sure patients have their surgery as soon as possible helps ensure the best possible outcome.

We keep a close eye on this and try to ensure patients get to the operating theatre within 36 hours of coming into hospital – in June this year 96% of patients did.

Our patients are cared for by the whole team, including care of the elderly physicians and social workers, and they provide the best possible care.

We know that a broken hip is a very serious problem. It has been estimated across the UK over a thousand people die every month as a result of this type of fracture.

As well as getting our care pathway right we monitor our outcomes and we were very pleased to receive the report on how we have been doing. For the period October 2010 to September 2011 (the most recent report) we were in the top ten Trusts for recovery from broken hips.

A figure is prepared which compares trusts, 100 is the average and numbers below 100 show our patients are more likely to recover – we are pleased to report our score was an impressive 67, meaning our patients do better than many other hospitals.

Mr David Higgs, orthopaedic surgeon said: “Breaking a hip in old age is a life changing event, it is therefore vitally important that we focus our efforts to ensure good outcomes with the ultimate aim of returning the patient to their own home.

“This can only be achieved with a multidisciplinary team of doctors, nurses, therapists and social workers. We believe that in Southampton we have delivered excellent results in our care and strive to improve even further”

For more information about broken hips see NHS Choices