MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – May is National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month. An estimated 44 million Americans are impacted by osteoporosis or low bone density; most will go undiagnosed and untreated.

Physicians of WVU Healthcare have identified and treated more than 430 patients with fragility fractures from osteoporosis, osteopenia and vitamin D deficiency in the past two years. WVU Healthcare is among 88 other entities nationwide that have taken the initiative to ensure that osteoporotic fracture patients receive the treatment and care they need.

Through the American Orthopaedic Association’s “Own the Bone program,” a national web-based quality improvement registry, WVU Healthcare maintains a fracture liaison service (FLS). An FLS program utilizes a care coordinator to ensure that post-fracture patients are identified and receive appropriate evaluation, diagnosis and treatment.

“Often, when patients are admitted to a hospital with a fracture, it is surgically repaired and the patient goes home. As long as the fracture is repaired, nobody thinks about the causes,” Colleen Watkins, M.D., WVU Healthcare rheumatologist, said. “But WVU Healthcare orthopaedists automatically see these patients for a consult and determine the cause of the fracture. This way treatment can begin before they even leave the hospital.”

At WVU Healthcare clinics, bone mineral density is measured with DEXA, one of the most reliable scanners used in diagnosing osteoporosis. The scan, which acts as a screening tool, is more accurate than an X-ray.

“Osteoporosis is a disease that does not show any signs. It doesn’t cause any pain or problems until a person has a fracture,” Dr. Watkins, said. “So by raising awareness about it, more people are going to think about it and ask their physicians for testing.”
For more information: Amy Johns, Director of Public Affairs, 304-293-7087
rd: 05-23-12