Hip fractures in elderly patients can be devastating for both physical and mental health. After undergoing surgery many patients go home, and without proper aftercare a large portion (33%) are re-admitted to hospital after further falls.
Researcher Rebecca Ferrier began looking into the re-admission rates for hip fracture patients at The Prince Charles Hospital and has found that, after just 6 weeks, 8% of patients had been re-admitted. After 18 weeks, this number had risen to 12%. After watching her father suffer from a hip fracture and the subsequent rehabilitation, Rebecca set out to figure out why these readmission rates were so high; and to delve further into the causes and preventable treatments that could be implemented, to ensure patients do not suffer further injury.
Rebecca started by carrying out a survey on a number of hip fracture patients, and collected their data from their 6-week follow up consult as outpatients. As the re-admission rates were so poor, she decided to do another follow up at 18 weeks and found they were worse again. She then published the results and began working on changing clinical practices within the hospital.
Through this research, Rebecca was able to change hospital practices for hip fracture patients. Previously, only 20% of discharged hip fracture patients were being seen for a follow-up consultation. Now, there is a weekly clinic for all hip fracture patients looked after one treating surgeon so that patients don’t slip through the cracks.
She also showed that the original follow-up consultation of 6 weeks was too soon – most prosthetics will show a break-down or failure within the first 10 weeks of surgery, so patients now attend the clinic after a 10 week period. On top of this, she has also added a physiotherapist review for each patient to even further improve outcomes for them.
Her research has even influenced the surgical practices at the hospital, as it has given some significant and meaningful insight into hip fracture patients and their current outcomes.
Annalicia is now performing a clinical trial to see if dietary fibre can reduce inflammation in lung cells through healthy gut bacteria.
Walk into the laboratory of the Cardiovascular Molecular and Therapeutics Translational Group and you’ll feel as if you’ve crossed into a unique and exciting dimension of science. Pipes and pumps, tanks filled with water at precisely 37 degrees Celsius to replicate the conditions of the human body, bubbling tubes crossing over one another–Associate Professor Peter Molenaar’s lab is an intriguing sight.