An extra meal a day cuts deaths by half in elderly with hip fractures

A pilot scheme called the HIP QIP programme was implemented across six trusts. Five of these were in England and one in Scotland. The scheme involves giving the elderly patients with hip fractures one extra meal per day. Results showed that this strategy can reduce the deaths among these patients by half.

The pilot scheme was led by the Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. Health care staff there first noted that elderly patients admitted with hip fractures seemed to be deficient in nutrients and also failed to consume adequate nutrients from food. The HIP QIP programme allowed these patients one extra meal a day. The scheme started two years back. The nutrition advisors provided these elderly hip fracture patients with one extra meal a day from the shops and hospital canteens and sat with them while the patients ate. The scheme was found to be successful and future applications of this strategy is on the cards.

According to experts, the extra meal provided to geriatric wards under the HIP QIP programme provided extra calories and also improved the morale of the patients that helped them recover faster. The mortality or death rates from hip fractures among the elderly dropped from 11 percent to 5.5 percent in the initial pilot trial. This pilot trial was launched in 2016 and it was noted that an extra meal could also reduce the hospital stay of these patients from an average of 25 days to 20 days.

The Health Foundation states that nearly 65,000 patients were admitted with hip fractures in 2015 and of these around one third succumb within one year of the fracture. Around 4,000 elderly people die within a month of their hip fractures yearly say the statistics.

Mr Dominic Inman is the chief orthopaedic surgeon for the National Hip Fracture Database. He explained that food intake was not taken into consideration before. He said in a statement, “At that point it's all about getting calories into the patient. If you look upon food as a very, very cheap drug, that's extremely powerful.”

Ananya Mandal

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Ananya Mandal

Ananya is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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