Lowering the Risk of Repeat Osteoporosis Fractures

The American Society for Bone and Mineral Research's task force of international experts is calling on healthcare providers to regularly provide osteoporosis testing and to begin therapy as needed for all adults above the age of 50 who have sustained their first osteoporosis-related fracture in an attempt to prevent future injuries. The panel's findings are published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

According to research, these services have displayed a noticeable improvement in follow-up assessment and treatment after an initial fracture was sustained and therefore lowered the risk of additional fractures. The team discovered that the biggest obstacle that must be overcome for using the model more extensively is lack of insurance coverage.

Each year, nearly 300,000 elderly individuals in the U.S. sustain a hip fracture, and over 20% die within a year of their injury. Hip fractures are often the most serious and expensive type of fracture. A recent study found that the Kaiser Permanente “Healthy Bones” model of care has demonstrated that programs like theirs can reduce the number of annual hip fractures by nearly 40%.

Osteoporosis expert, Ethel S. Siris, M.D., claims, "The increasing incidence of osteoporosis-related fractures is a public health disaster - one that already causes untold suffering and is slated to add $25 billion to the nation's health care costs by 2025. We know that once a first fracture occurs the risk of additional fractures is high. Targeting these individuals for treatment to reduce the possibility of more fractures will save a lot of human suffering and tremendous expense to the health care budget."

According to Siris, although emergency room physicians and orthopedic surgeons demonstrate excellent workmanship in repairing initial fractures, there is a large gap between the “fracture fixer and the fracture preventer” in preventing future osteoporosis problems. This gap can be patched by fracture liaison service coordinators, who are critical in patient education, ensuring the patient is seen for medical management and to follow up on the patient’s adherence of taking necessary medications to prevent future fractures.

The expert task force has implemented the most comprehensive review on secondary fractures thus far. Their efforts highlight the importance of widespread implementation for fracture liaison services of patients over age 50 who already sustained a fracture. Currently, there are only very few insurers that cover paying for the services of a fracture liaison service coordinator.

Secondary fractures are often the result of undiagnosed or untreated osteoporosis and represent a growing health problem due to the world’s aging population. The cost of employing fracture liaison service coordinators is relatively inexpensive and research has proven that paying for such care is a sound investment in providing two major benefits: effective fracture prevention and reducing medical costs.

www.jbmr.org/


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