Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research ®

A Publication of The Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons ®

Do Patients Taking Warfarin Experience Delays to Theatre, Longer Hospital Stay, and Poorer Survival After Hip Fracture?

John E. Lawrence MA, MB, BChir, MRCS, Daniel M. Fountain BSc, Duncan J. Cundall-Curry MBBS, MRCS Dip Clin Ed, Andrew D. Carrothers MBChB, FRCS (Tr&Orth)



Patients sustaining a fractured neck of the femur are typically of advanced age with multiple comorbidities. As a consequence, the proportion of these patients receiving warfarin therapy is approximately 10%. There are currently few studies investigating outcomes in this subset of patients.


The purpose of this study was to assess the association between warfarin therapy and time to surgery, length of hospital stay, and survival in patients sustaining a fractured neck of the femur.


Data for 2036 patients admitted to our center between July 2009 and July 2014 with a fractured neck of the femur were extracted from the National Hip Fracture Database. Fifty-seven patients received no surgical treatment and were excluded from analysis. Multivariable ordinary least squares regression was performed to test the association between warfarin treatment on time to surgery and length of stay, and Cox proportional hazards to test followup survival. Variables included in the regression model were age, sex, American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) score, admission Abbreviated Mental Test Score (AMTS), fracture type, operation type, and premorbid Work Ability Index (WAI). One hundred fifty-two of 1979 surgically treated patients (8%) were receiving warfarin therapy at the time of admission.


After controlling for age, sex, ASA score, AMTS, fracture type, operation type, and WAI, we found that patients taking warfarin were less likely to go to surgery by 36 hours (odds ratio [OR], 0.20; 95% CI, 0.14–0.30), and less likely to go to surgery by 48 hours (OR, 0.17; 95% CI, 0.11–0.24). Patients taking warfarin had a longer length of stay (median, 15 days; interquartile range [IQR], 12–22 days) compared with patients not taking warfarin (median, 13 days; IQR, 9–20 days; p < 0.001). Survival analysis to June 2015 showed a higher mortality for patients taking warfarin (12-month survival, 66% vs 76%; hazard ratio, 1.57; 95% CI, 1.21–2.04; p < 0.001).


After controlling for multiple prognostic factors such as age, ASA score, AMTS, and WAI, warfarin therapy at the time of injury is associated with increased time to surgery, length of stay, and decreased survival. This study highlights the need to view warfarin therapy as a ‘red flag’ in patients presenting with a fractured neck of the femur. Preoperatively, prompt warfarin reversal together with adequate investigation and optimization of the patient should ensure timely, safe surgery. Early involvement of the anesthesia team should ensure an appropriate level of postoperative care for these patients.

Level of Evidence

Level III, therapeutic study