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Fracture patients unaware of other risks

A dedicated fracture liaison nurse may be the answer to improving osteoporosis treatment.

Most patients with fragility fractures are unaware they are at risk of osteoporosis risk, a new study has found.

The researchers were implementing and assessing ways to improve osteoporosis treatment for patients discharged from emergency departments (EDs) with a fragility fracture.

Study co-author Charles Inderjeeth, a geriatrician and rheumatologist at the North Metropolitan Area Health Service in Perth, says the study significantly improved the number of patients receiving treatment, but many people were simply unaware of the risk.

"The persistent low level of awareness of osteoporosis remains a significant concern and is likely to remain a barrier to patients seeking medical review and accepting and complying with preventive treatment," Inderjeeth said.

Research shows only 40 per cent of patients are aware they are at risk of osteoporosis.

The responsibility to inform patients is on GPs and hospital clinicians, says Inderjeeth.

"Most ED and orthopaedic clinicians in our institution claimed that time and resources were the main barriers to improving the quality of osteoporosis care in their settings," he said.

But he admitted an ED was probably not the ideal place to educate patients on osteoporosis risks and fracture prevention.

"They (patients) are preoccupied at the time with more acute issues of pain, co-morbidity and anxiety in an overwhelming environment," Inderjeeth said.

The research, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, shows patients are interested in treatments once they are properly informed.

After patients were informed of the risk, osteoporosis treatments rose from six per cent to 30 per cent, and the rate of tests measuring the density of bone minerals shot up from three per cent to 45 per cent.

Patients receiving calcium supplements rose from 12 per cent to 33 per cent while the number taking Vitamin D supplements increased from 12 to 37 per cent.

Results also showed 84 per cent of patients referred to a fragile bone clinic asked for an osteoporosis review after the risk was explained to them by a fracture liaison nurse.

Inderjeeth says this suggests a dedicated fracture liaison nurse may be the answer to improving patient education and treatment in the future.


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