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AIMS: Understanding of open fracture management is skewed due to reliance on small-number lower limb, specialist unit reports and large, unfocused registry data collections. To address this, we carried out the Open Fracture Patient Evaluation Nationwide (OPEN) study, and report the demographic details and the initial steps of care for patients admitted with open fractures in the UK. METHODS: Any patient admitted to hospital with an open fracture between 1 June 2021 and 30 September 2021 was included, excluding phalanges and isolated hand injuries. Institutional information governance approval was obtained at the lead site and all data entered using Research Electronic Data Capture. Demographic details, injury, fracture classification, and patient dispersal were detailed. RESULTS: In total, 1,175 patients (median age 47 years (interquartile range (IQR) 29 to 65), 61.0% male (n = 717)) were admitted across 51 sites. A total of 546 patients (47.1%) were employed, 5.4% (n = 63) were diabetic, and 28.8% (n = 335) were smokers. In total, 29.0% of patients (n = 341) had more than one injury and 4.8% (n = 56) had two or more open fractures, while 51.3% of fractures (n = 637) occurred in the lower leg. Fractures sustained in vehicle incidents and collisions are common (38.8%; n = 455) and typically seen in younger patients. A simple fall (35.0%; n = 410) is common in older people. Overall, 69.8% (n = 786) of patients were admitted directly to an orthoplastic centre, 23.0% (n = 259) were transferred to an orthoplastic centre after initial management elsewhere, and 7.2% were managed outwith specialist units (n = 81). CONCLUSION: This study describes the epidemiology of open fractures in the UK. For a decade, orthopaedic surgeons have been practicing in a guideline-driven, network system without understanding the patient features, injury characteristics, or dispersal processes of the wider population. This work will inform care pathways as the UK looks to the future of trauma networks and guidelines, and how to optimize care for patients with open fractures.Cite this article: Bone Jt Open 2022;3(10):746-752.

Original publication




Journal article


Bone jt open

Publication Date





746 - 752


Charlson Comorbidity Index, Epidemiology, Fracture, Frailty, Open, Orthopaedic Trauma, Trauma, epidemiology, hand injuries, lower limb, open fractures, orthopaedic surgeons, phalanges, tibia