Fee-based Care is Important for Access to Prompt Treatment of Hip Fractures Among Veterans
- First Online:
- Cite this article as:
- Richardson, K.K., Cram, P., Vaughan-Sarrazin, M. et al. Clin Orthop Relat Res (2013) 471: 1047. doi:10.1007/s11999-013-2783-3
Hip fracture is a medical emergency for which delayed treatment increases risk of disability and death. In emergencies, veterans without access to a Veterans Administration (VA) hospital may be admitted to non-VA hospitals under fee-based (NVA-FB) care paid by the VA. The affect of NVA-FB care for treatment and outcomes of hip fractures is unknown.
This research seeks to answer three questions: (1) What patient characteristics determine use of VA versus NVA-FB hospitals for hip fracture? (2) Does time between admission and surgery differ by hospital (VA versus NVA-FB)? (3) Does mortality differ by hospital?
Veterans admitted for hip fractures to VA (n = 9308) and NVA-FB (n = 1881) hospitals from 2003 to 2008 were identified. Primary outcomes were time to surgery and death. Logistic regression identified patient characteristics associated with NVA-FB hospital admissions; differences in time to surgery and death were evaluated using Cox proportional hazards regression, controlling for patient covariates.
Patients admitted to NVA-FB hospitals were more likely to be younger, have service-connected disabilities, and live more than 50 miles from a VA hospital. Median days to surgery were less for NVA-FB admissions compared with VA admissions (1 versus 3 days, respectively). NVA-FB admissions were associated with 21% lower relative risk of death within 1 year compared with VA hospital admissions.
For veterans with hip fractures, NVA-FB hospital admission was associated with shorter time to surgery and lower 1-year mortality. These findings suggest fee-based care, especially for veterans living greater distances from VA hospitals, may improve access to care and health outcomes.
Level of Evidence
Level II, prognostic study. See the Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.