Hip fracture in elderly patients is a rising global public health concern because of population ageing, and increasing frailty. Long-term morbidity related to poor management of hip fracture is associated with decreased quality of life, survival, and increase in healthcare costs. Receiving postoperative rehabilitation is associated with better outcomes and a higher likelihood of returning to pre-existing level of functioning. However little is known about which postoperative rehabilitation pathways are more effective to optimize patient outcomes. Few studies have analyzed postoperative rehabilitation pathways in a universal healthcare system. The aim of this study is to analyze the impact of post-acute rehabilitation pathways on mortality and readmission in elderly patients undergoing surgery for hip fracture in a large metropolitan area in Italy.
In this retrospective cohort study, we analyzed 6-month mortality from admission and 6-month readmission after hospital discharge in patients who underwent surgical repair for hip fracture in the hospitals of the Bologna metropolitan area between 1.1.2013 and 30.6.2014. Data were drawn from the regional hospital discharge records database. Kaplan-Meier estimates and multiple Cox regression were used to analyze mortality as a function of rehabilitation pathways. Multiple logistic regression determined predictors of readmission.
The study population includes 2208 patients, mostly women ( n = 1677, 76%), with a median age of 83.8 years. Hospital rehabilitation was provided to 519 patients (23.5%), 907 (41.1%) received rehabilitation in private inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRF) accredited by the National Health System, and 782 (35.4%) received no post-acute rehabilitation. Compared with patient receiving hospital rehabilitation, the other groups showed significantly higher mortality risks (no rehabilitation, Hazard Ratio (HR) = 2.19, 95%CI = 1.54–3.12, p < 0.001; IRF rehabilitation, HR = 1.66, 95%CI = 1.54–1.79, p < 0.001). The risk of readmission did not differ significantly among rehabilitation pathways.
Intensive hospital rehabilitation was significantly associated with a lower risk of mortality compared to IRF rehabilitation and no rehabilitation. Our results may help in the development of evidence-based recommendations aimed to improve resource utilization and quality of care in hip fracture patients. Further research is warranted to investigate the impact of the rehabilitation pathway on other outcomes, such as patients’ functional status and quality of life.