BERLIN, Vt. — The University of Vermont – Central Vermont Medical Center (CVMC) this week launches the American Orthopaedic Association (AOA)’s Own the Bone® program, aimed at better identifying, evaluating and treating patients with osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a medical condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile, and can contribute to low bone density-related fragility fractures, specifically those resulting from standing-height or lower falls.
Own the Bone brings focus to the severe health implications of fragility fractures and the multi-faceted approaches hospitals can employ in ensuring patients receive the most comprehensive care.
Own the Bone is a national web-based quality improvement registry that incorporates 10 measures for reducing future fractures and provides CVMC with immediate feedback on program performance to measure success. It also benchmarks CVMC against other medical institutions.
Data entered in the registry can be immediately quantified, offering real-time insight into how actions are positively affecting patient care.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), up to 50 percent of all women and 25 percent of men over age 50 will sustain fragility fractures in their lifetimes. The American Bone Health Prevalence Report states that more people in the United States suffer fragility fractures each year than are diagnosed with heart attacks, strokes or breast cancer combined. These figures are projected to increase as the population ages.
And according to the National Committee for Quality Assurance, only 1 in 5 Medicare patients have received the osteoporosis care (s)he needed after a fracture.
With Own the Bone, CVMC reduces any treatment gaps, ensuring patients with fragility fractures are screened and appropriately treated for low bone density or osteoporosis.
Dr. Teresa A. Fama, a member of The American Board of Internal Medicine and The American Board of Internal Medicine – Rheumatology, is leading efforts to implement Own the Bone at CVMC. Inspiration for joining the initiative sprung from the findings of Dr. Fama and her board-certified partners in rheumatology at CVMC, Drs. Christine Jones and Kevin Kerin. Each noted changes in the ways patients were choosing to treat osteoporosis.
“In general, we’ve seen a decrease in the number of women, in particular, taking medications for osteoporosis,” Dr. Fama said, resulting in greater fragility and increased risk of fracture.
AOA studies demonstrate patients who’ve had a fragility fracture are 2 to 4 times more likely to experience another fracture than those who’ve never had a fracture. These findings underscored CVMC’s drive for greater education and prevention.
“We heal and treat the fracture well, but we weren’t actively trying to prevent another fracture,” Dr. Fama explained.
Own the Bone aims to change that by engaging patients, from the moment they’re admitted with a fracture, through discharge.
Fabienne Pattison, RN, spearheading CVMC’s initiative, explained new protocols trigger visits from a rheumatologist and fracture liaison service nurse, charged with monitoring patients during their hospital stays and beyond.
“A consultation with rheumatology will be added to admission orders, assuring patients are also seen in the hospital by a fracture liaison service nurse,” Pattison said. “These nurses will initiate contact with patients during their hospital stays, through discharge planning and follow up, and after they’ve been discharged home or to post-acute rehabilitation.”
“A comprehensive, multi-specialty approach will greatly reduce repeat fragility fractures for at-risk patients,” said Dr. Douglas R. Dirschl, past AOA president. “Own the Bone gives hospitals the tools needed to address and curb this major health crisis.”