Background and objectives: The aim of this study was to evaluate the prognosis after treatment for femoral neck fracture, to assess the impact of delay to surgery, and to devise a clinical prediction rule and score.
Methods: A prospective observational study was conducted in which 1780 patients treated surgically in two teaching hospitals between 1 November 1997 and 31 October 1999 were followed over 12 months. Logistic regression was used to distinguish the effects of predictor variables on survival. Using a probit transformation of the predicted posterior probabilities of death, a prognostic score was devised with scores constrained so that a nominal score of approximately 90 represented a 50:50 chance of survival over 12 months.
Results: Mortality was 30.1% in men and 19.5% in women. Increasing age, male gender, longer pre-operative delay, a higher American Society of Anesthesiology score, a lower Mental Test score, and a lower activities of daily living (Barthel) score were associated with increased risks of death. Of those waiting between 1 and 5 days for surgery, approximately 8 medium-risk and 17 high-risk patients (with prognostic scores of 90 and 120, respectively) would have to have their delay reduced to < 24 hours to yield one additional survivor.
Conclusion: The application of prediction rules must be guided by ethical, social, and scientific concerns.