The detection of patients with ‘fragility fractures’ in fracture clinic- an audit of practice with reference to recent British Orthopaedic Association guidelines

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The British Orthopaedic Association published guidelines on the care of fragility fracture patients in 2003. section of these guidelines relates to the secondary prevention of osteoporotic fractures. The objective of this audit was to compare practice in our fracture clinic to these guidelines, and take steps to improve our practice if required.


We retrospectively audited the treatment of all 462 new patients seen in January and February 2004. Using case note analysis, 38 patients who had sustained probable fragility fractures were selected. Six months' post-injury, telephone questionnaire was administered to confirm the nature of the injury and to find out whether the patient had been assessed, investigated or treated for osteoporosis. A second similar audit was conducted a year later after steps had been taken to improve awareness amongst the orthopaedic staff and prompt referral.


During the first audit period, only 5 of 38 patients who should have been assessed and investigated for osteoporosis were either referred or offered referral. This improved to 23 out of 43 patients during the second audit period.


Improvements in referral and assessment rates of patients at risk of further fragility fractures can be achieved relatively easily by taking steps to increase awareness amongst orthopaedic surgeons, although additional strategies and perhaps the use of automated referral systems may be required to achieve referral rates nearer 100%.

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