New York Methodist Hospital Introduces Geriatric Hip Fracture Program

Brooklyn, NY

Henry Tischler, MD

Henry Tischler, MD, chief of orthopedic surgery at NYM, discusses the loss of bone density in older adults.

New York Methodist Hospital (NYM) recently introduced a Geriatric Hip Fracture Program, designed to streamline the process of care for elderly patients who have experienced a broken hip. Each year, nearly 300,000 Americans, aged 65 or older, will fracture a hip, usually due to osteoporosis or a fall. The Geriatric Hip Fracture Program was developed with time sensitivity in mind, as immediate attention yields positive results when treating broken hips in older adults.

A hip fracture occurs when the femoral bone (the long bone running through the thigh) ruptures and dislocates from the hip joint. Broken hips are most common in older adults because bone density decreases with age. Gradual loss of density weakens bones and makes them more susceptible to fracture.

Because elderly patients usually have weaker immune systems and are more prone to infection from treatment, hip fractures pose dangers that go beyond the injury itself. During recovery, many older adults contract pneumonia or develop bedsores from the prolonged period of immobility. In addition, if they are not treated quickly, some hip fracture patients experience additional fractures.

"If a patient experiences a fall and is immobile afterward, or has severe pain or bruising in the hip, he or she should go to the emergency room immediately because prompt treatment means less risk of complications," said Henry Tischler, MD, chief of orthopedic surgery at NYM.

When a patient comes to the Emergency Department with a broken hip, he or she is assessed for treatment as quickly as possible. Under the guidelines of the Geriatric Hip Fracture Program, the Department of Surgery performs surgery on eligible patients within 48 hours of injury. The patient is then checked for post-operative symptoms and levels of vitamin D and calcium are checked, as these are important for bone strength. He or she is then transferred to the Division of Rehabilitation Medicine for physical therapy to strengthen the hip.

The Geriatric Hip Fracture Program is designed to shorten a patient's length of stay and reduce post-treatment symptoms. While there are always risks of complications, New York Methodist Hospital's Geriatric Hip Fracture Program is designed to improve the experience of patients. Recovery time for hip fracture patients at NYM has decreased by 50 percent since the program's inception.

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