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August 2016

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Technician Susan Harvey, Professor Gustavo Duque and Western Health fracture care prevention co-ordinator Solange Bernardo prepare to conduct a patient scan.

Osteoporosis care for patients after bone fractures

Every eight minutes someone is admitted to an Australian hospital with an osteoporotic fracture.

Bone fractures caused by osteoporosis are more common than the combined incidence of heart attacks, stroke and breast cancer.

These statistics have prompted Western Health to establish Victoria’s first fracture care and prevention program for over-65 patients.

The program is aimed at closing a treatment gap often experienced by older patients admitted with fractures to hospitals.

Many of these patients miss out on osteoporosis treatment when they leave hospital because specialists assume that GPs will implement the treatment.

But GPs assume specialists in hospitals will do so, according to Western Health chair of medicine and director of the Australian Institute of Musculoskeletal Science Gustavo Duque.

Osteoporosis treatment – involving vitamin D, medications and exercise therapy – dramatically reduces the number of further injuries and falls among older patients with a fracture, according to research studies.

Fracture care and prevention programs are compulsory in hospitals in the United Kingdom and are being rolled out in New Zealand because of their success in reducing the hospital readmission rates of over-65 patients.

The new program at Sunshine Hospital opened last month, providing a one-stop shop approach to the identification, assessment and treatment of osteoporosis for patients referred by GPs, as well as those currently in hospital at Western Health.

It includes a fracture liaison service and an education program for GPs in the community to help them identify and treat patients at risk of osteoporotic fractures.

Professor Duque said the program’s comprehensive model of prevention and care could easily be adopted by other health services.

‘By implementing the osteoporosis treatment and after an effective follow-up by the patient’s GP, we’re able to help prevent the next fracture and keep people out of hospital emergency departments.’