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J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2002 Aug;84-A(8):1342-8.

Improvement in the undertreatment of osteoporosis following hip fracture.

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New York Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York, NY, USA.



Osteoporosis is a common disease characterized by decreased bone mass and increased fracture risk in postmenopausal women and the elderly. Hip fractures are among the most common consequences of osteoporosis and unfortunately usually occur late in the course of the disease. When a patient is admitted to the hospital with a fragility hip fracture, a unique opportunity for diagnosis and treatment presents itself. Fortunately, several medications have proven to be effective in lowering the risk of future fractures. The purposes of the present study were to test the hypothesis that most fragility hip fractures go untreated and to determine whether educational efforts to raise physician awareness have led to an improvement in osteoporosis treatment rates.


A retrospective cohort study was performed with use of the patient databases at two university medical centers and one university-affiliated community hospital. The charts of 300 randomly selected patients were sorted with use of ICD-9 (International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision) codes for femoral neck fractures. There were 100 patients from each center, with twenty-five patients from each year between 1997 and 2000. The admitting diagnosis, mechanism of injury, admission medications, procedures performed during hospitalization, and discharge medications were then extracted and analyzed. During this period, the National Osteoporosis Foundation established guiding principles for the treatment of fragility fractures.


Of the seventy-five patients from all centers for each year from 1997 to 2000, 11%, 13%, 24%, and 29%, respectively, were discharged with a prescription for some medication targeting osteopenia, either supplemental calcium or an antiosteoporotic medication (estrogen, calcitonin, a bisphosphonate, or raloxifene). A trended chi-square analysis of this increase revealed a p value of <0.001, indicating that this improvement in treatment was unlikely due to chance alone. Fifty-eight (19.3%) of the 300 patients in the study received a prescription at the time of discharge. However, forty of these patients (13.3% of the overall group) received calcium and only eighteen (6.0% of the overall group) received a medication to actively prevent bone resorption and treat osteoporosis. In addition, no patient underwent a bone density scan while in the hospital.


Elderly patients and postmenopausal women who are admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with a low-energy femoral neck fracture have been undertreated for osteoporosis. However, over the four years of the present study, there was a significant increase in the rate of treatment. It is hoped that treatment rates will continue to increase in the future with continued educational efforts.

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