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Rising costs of hip fractures

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Early, intensive intervention may complement fall prevention in reducing the personal and financial costs

The most rapidly growing age group in Australia is that of people aged 65 or more, and those over 85 years of age make up an increasing proportion of this group. While we celebrate longevity, it appears that low trauma fractures, most of which result from a fall and poor bone quality, remain a major problem, both for older people and for the health systems that care for them.

According to a report published by Osteoporosis Australia in 2013,1 there will be about 26 000 hip fractures in Australia during 2016, with estimated total costs of $1 billion. Treatment of hip fractures consumes about 44% of total fracture-related health care expenditure, and accounts for 36% of all hospital beds occupied by patients with low trauma fractures.

Hip fracture patients are the most complex and frail people in our hospitals, and care is most effectively delivered when orthopaedic surgeons and geriatricians work in partnership with other key health professionals involved in hip fracture care.2 The surgery itself comprises a tiny fraction of the total time spent in hospital, but this period is critical for affording pain relief and optimising the chances of a functional recovery.

The Australian and New Zealand Guideline for hip fracture care…