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The Open-Fracture Patient Evaluation Nationwide (OPEN) study

the management of open fracture care in the UK

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The Open-Fracture Patient Evaluation Nationwide (OPEN) study was performed to provide clarity in open fracture management previously skewed by small, specialist centre studies and large, unfocused registry investigations. We report the current management metrics of open fractures across the UK.


Patients admitted to hospital with an open fracture (excluding phalanges or isolated hand injuries) between 1 June 2021 and 30 September 2021 were included. Institutional information governance approval was obtained at the lead site and all data entered using Research Electronic Data Capture software. All domains of the British Orthopaedic Association Standard for Open Fracture Management were recorded.


Across 51 centres, 1,175 patients were analyzed. Antibiotics were given to 754 (69.0%) in the emergency department, 240 (22.0%) pre-hospital, and 99 (9.1%) as inpatients. Wounds were photographed in 848 (72.7%) cases. Median time to first surgery was 16 hrs 14 mins (interquartile range (IQR) 8 hrs 29 mins to 23 hrs 19 mins). Complex injuries were operated on sooner (median 12 hrs 51 mins (IQR 4 hrs 36 mins to 21 hrs 14 mins)). Of initial procedures, 1,053 (90.3%) occurred between 8am and 8pm. A consultant orthopaedic surgeon was present at 1,039 (89.2%) first procedures. In orthoplastic centres, a consultant plastic surgeon was present at 465 (45.1%) first procedures. Overall, 706 (60.8%) patients required a single operation. At primary debridement, 798 (65.0%) fractures were definitively fixed, while 734 (59.8%) fractures had fixation and coverage in one operation through direct closure or soft-tissue coverage. Negative pressure wound therapy was used in 235 (67.7%) staged procedures. Following wound closure or soft-tissue cover, 509 (47.0%) patients received antibiotics for a median of three days (IQR 1 to 7).


OPEN provides an insight into care across the UK and different levels of hospital for open fractures. Patients are predominantly operated on promptly, in working hours, and at specialist centres. Areas for improvement include combined patient review and follow-up, scheduled operating, earlier definitive soft-tissue cover, and more robust antibiotic husbandry.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2022;104-B(9):1073–1080.

Correspondence should be sent to Robert J. H. Winstanley. E-mail:

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