Osteoporosis-related fractures are associated with costs reaching into the tens of billions of dollars annually in the United States. Many of these fractures may be prevented if at-risk patients received timely diagnosis and treatment. Specific treatment may include starting a pharmaceutical agent; calcium and vitamin D are good for healthy bone metabolism, but are not enough by themselves to stave off age-related and menopause-related bone loss. Yet, notes Edward J. Fox, M.D., professor at Penn State Hershey Bone and Joint Institute, “Less than 25 percent of women who experience a fragility fracture receive any further workup for osteoporosis.” Fox and his colleagues are currently exploring ways to improve osteoporosis detection in this highly at-risk population.
In a study presented at the 2013 Orthopedic Research Society’s annual meeting1, women ages 50 years and older who presented at the Penn State Hershey emergency department (ED) with a low-energy fracture were randomly assigned to an intervention group, who received a follow-up letter within three months advising evaluation for osteoporosis, or a control group, who were contacted by telephone within three months of the ED visit, to determine whether they received any osteoporosis-related follow-up. Among women who received the intervention letter, 60.19 percent received followup osteoporosis evaluation; only 14.29 percent of the control group did so. Continue reading