WVU Medicine Orthopaedics recognized for fragility fracture patient care

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – WVU Medicine Orthopaedics has received the American Orthopaedic Association’s Own the Bone® Star Performer designation, an achievement reserved only for institutions that perform the highest level of fragility fracture and bone healthcare.  Own the Bone badge

Although more than 53 million Americans already have osteoporosis or are at high risk due to low bone mass, most will go undiagnosed and untreated. Due to an aging population, the number of Americans with osteoporosis or low bone density is expected to increase significantly.

A broken bone, also known as an osteoporotic or fragility fracture, is a serious complication of osteoporosis and often the first sign that a person has the disease. One in two women and one in four men will break a bone in their lifetime due to osteoporosis. Unfortunately, less than half of the nearly two million individuals who experience fragility fractures each year are tested or treated for osteoporosis.  

Those fractures are costly – nearly $19 billion in related costs every year. By 2025, experts predict those numbers to rise to nearly three million fractures and $25.3 billion in costs each year.  

Failing to prevent future fractures can be deadly; nearly 25 percent of patients who suffer a hip fracture die within a year. The majority who do survive experience a loss of independence and often require long-term nursing home care. 

WVU Medicine Orthopaedics has taken steps to ensure its osteoporotic fracture patients receive the treatment and care they deserve through participation in the Own the Bone quality improvement program. 

Through the Own the Bone program and its national web-based quality improvement registry, WVU Medicine Orthopaedics has been provided with the tools to establish a fracture liaison service (FLS) and to document, track, and benchmark care of fragility fracture patients. Through an FLS program, a care coordinator, such as a nurse or physician’s assistant, ensures that fragility fracture patients are identified, evaluated, and treated.

Own the Bone Star Performers like WVU Medicine Orthopaedics must achieve a 75 percent compliance rate with at least five of the 10 Own the Bone prevention measures, including educating patients on the importance of calcium and vitamin D, physical activity, fall prevention, limiting alcohol intake, and smoking cessation; recommending and initiating bone mineral density testing; discussing pharmacotherapy and treatment (when applicable); and providing written communication to the patient and their physician regarding specific risk factors and treatment recommendations.  

Through participation in Own the Bone and recognition as an Own the Bone Star Performer, WVU Medicine Orthopaedics has demonstrated a commitment to helping patients understand their risk for future fractures and the steps they can take to prevent them.

“Our team evaluates patients for osteoporosis and provides both lifestyle changes and medical therapies to prevent further bone loss and reduce their chance of bone fractures,” Colleen Watkins, M.D., WVU Medicine Orthopaedics Own the Bone physician champion, said. “We are honored to be recognized for our efforts.” 

What can people do to protect their bones?

  • Get adequate calcium and vitamin D, either through diet or supplements, if necessary.
  • Engage in regular weight bearing and muscle strengthening exercise.
  • Prevent falls around the home and be careful of stairs, railings, clutter, etc.
  • Avoid smoking and limit alcohol intake to two-to-three drinks per day.

Those over age 50 who have had a broken bone should talk to their healthcare provider and get a bone density screening to determine if osteoporosis might be the cause and learn how to prevent future fractures.

For more information about WVU Medicine Orthopaedics, visit WVUMedicine.org/Ortho

About the AOA
Founded in 1887, The American Orthopaedic Association (AOA) is the oldest orthopaedic association in the world. At its core is its mission: “Engaging the orthopaedic community to develop leaders, strategies, and resources to guide the future of musculoskeletal care.”  For more information, visit AOASSN.org or call 847-318-7336.