Discharge destination and patient-reported outcomes after inpatient treatment for isolated lower limb fractures

Lara A. Kimmel, Pamela M. Simpson, Anne E. Holland, Elton R. Edwards, Peter A. Cameron, Richard S. de Steiger, Richard S. Page, Raphael Hau, Andrew Bucknill, Jessica Kasza, Belinda J. Gabbe

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Objectives: To examine the association between discharge destination (home or inpatient rehabilitation) for adult patients treated in hospital for isolated lower limb fractures and patient-reported outcomes. Design: Review of prospectively collected Victorian Orthopaedic Trauma Outcomes Registry (VOTOR) data. Setting, participants: Adults (18–64 years old) treated for isolated lower limb fractures at four Melbourne trauma hospitals that contribute data to the VOTOR, 1 March 2007 – 31 March 2016. Main outcome measures: Return to work and functional recovery (assessed with the extended Glasgow Outcomes Scale, GOS-E); propensity score analysis of association between discharge destination and outcome. Results: Of 7961 eligible patients, 1432 (18%) were discharged to inpatient rehabilitation, and 6775 (85%) were followed up 12 months after their injuries. After propensity score adjustment, the odds of better functional recovery were 56% lower for patients discharged to inpatient rehabilitation than for those discharged directly home (odds ratio, 0.44; 95% CI, 0.37–0.51); for the 5057 people working before their accident, the odds of return to work were reduced by 66% (odds ratio, 0.34; 95% CI, 0.26–0.46). Propensity score analysis improved matching of the discharge destination groups, but imbalances in funding source remained for both outcome analyses, and for also for site and cause of injury in the GOS-E analysis (standardised differences, 10–16%). Conclusions: Discharge to inpatient rehabilitation after treatment for isolated lower limb fractures was associated with poorer outcomes than discharge home. Factors that remained unbalanced after propensity score analysis could be assessed in controlled trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-270
Number of pages8
JournalThe Medical Journal of Australia
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • Fractures, bone
  • Orthopedic procedures
  • Rehabilitation
  • Trauma surgery
  • Treatment outcome

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