The aim of this study was to observe current practice of the use of hip precautions following hemiarthroplasty for hip fractures in England and to audit the cost of hip precautions in this patient group.
A telephone review was undertaken of all units identified by the National Hip Fracture Database as receiving centres for hip fractures across England to ascertain current practice in the use of hip precautions. A prospective audit of occupational therapy (OT) practice including the cost of equipment provision and OT time was carried out locally.
All 174 units in England were successfully contacted. Practice varied between centres but hip precautions were in use at 78% of centres. Prior to stopping hip precautions at the local hospital, we audited the costs associated with their use. Mean equipment costs per patient decreased by £12 (from £49 to £37, range: £0–£83) and mean OT time per patient decreased by 1.5 hours (from 8 hours to 6.5 hours, range: 1–22 hours) following removal of hip precaution guidelines. A mean of 0.25 days' discharge delay (range: 0–4 days) due to equipment provision was identified prior to removing hip precautions with no discharge delay following.
This study has highlighted the variation in practice across the country and inconsistency with the advice published by the British Orthopaedic Association and British Geriatrics Society in the ‘Blue Book’ (The Care of Patients with Fragility Fracture). Hip precautions are unnecessary after hemiarthroplasty, cost money both in therapist time and equipment provision and increase the length of hospital stay. Nevertheless, they continue to be used by three-quarters of trauma hospitals in England.