Broken Bones Linked to Mortality Risk for Up to Ten YearsAlthough researchers have long been aware of the risk of mortality and hip fractures in older people, a recent study links the risk of mortality to fractures in other parts of the body. This study is of note as it shows that broken bones in older adults can heighten their mortality risk for five to 10 years post-injury, and that all breaks and fractures – not just the hips – must be cared for properly.

About the study

The study, appearing in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, looked at the entire population of Denmark – that’s right, the entire population. Because Denmark has a national health registry, researchers were able to track health outcomes for every citizen over 50 years old who experienced a fragility fracture, and for whom 10-year follow up data was available. (A fragility fracture  is a fracture that occurs from a fall from standing height or less.)

“Although there are many studies looking at what happens after hip fracture, there have never previously been large enough data sets to look at other specific fracture types to identify for how long the increased risk of dying lasts,” senior study author Dr. Jacqueline Center told Reuters Health.

“We studied a remarkable health resource—the Danish national register, which has for decades monitored the diagnoses and healthcare use of the entire population of Denmark. It was only by using a dataset this extensive and robust that we were able to learn about individual fracture sites, the risks they carry, and the length of time that risk persists,” she added.

The researchers used registry data to study 21,123 women (average age 72) and 9,481 men (average age 67) with fragility fractures.

What the researchers found

Researchers found the following after analyzing their data:

  • In total, 10,668 women and 4,745 men died during the 10-year follow up timeframe
  • In the year after breaking a hip, men faced a 33% higher mortality rate and women faced a 20% higher mortality rate
  • Femur and pelvic fractures were associated with increased mortality risks of 20% and 25% for men and women, respectively
  • Vertebral fractures were associated with increased mortality risks of 10%
  • Fractures of the upper arm, clavicle, and rib were associated with increased mortality risks of 5 to 10%

Further, statistics showed that when older adults broke their leg, their mortality risk persisted for five years, and with a hip fracture that risk lasted for 10 years.

Dr. Center also commented to Orthopedics This Week:

The research highlights the important contribution of a wide variety of fragility fractures other than hip to excess mortality (meaning the extra deaths above what would have been expected for someone of that age and sex without a fracture). While hip fractures are regarded as significant and recognized as causing increased mortality, non-hip fractures are often seen as not being very important. This study highlights the need for early intervention following any low trauma fracture to minimize the wide treatment gap that is present internationally.

What this means for you

Any injury that results in a broken or fractured bone is a serious injury. This research indicates that older adults need proper aftercare and monitoring following a fragility fracture. Per Dr. Center:

Orthopaedic surgeons should consider that the treatment of the patient requires more than just fixing the bones acutely. Osteoporosis is a condition that has adverse consequences including premature mortality following a fracture  Orthopaedic surgeons should tell the patient that he/she requires further follow-up from their general practitioner or specialist to understand why the bone broke and investigate whether their bones are fragile and require specific treatment.

If you or your loved one experienced further injury or complication due to improper care of your broken bone, your health care provider may have committed medical malpractice. Talk to our experienced attorneys about your injuries and the circumstances of your case. At Larson Law Firm, P.C., we protect those injured by the negligence of others and seek compensation on their behalf. To arrange a free consultation, call us in Minot or Bismarck today at 701.484.HURT or complete our contact form.