Bone & Joint Institute | Fragility Fracture Program

Fragility fractures resulting from osteoporosis are a major public health issue. In particular, perimenopausal and postmenopausal women who develop a fragility fracture are then twice as likely to suffer subsequent fractures.

More patients (over 2 million) suffer these fractures each year than suffer from heart attacks, strokes and breast cancer combined. It’s estimated that as many as 50 percent of women and 25 percent of men will suffer a fragility fracture in their lifetime. Rates for fragility fractures are increasing worldwide, and mortality rates from hip fractures are significant at over 25 percent. We are doing as much as possible to address the fact that nationwide, as many as 80 percent of fragility fracture patients don’t get the right osteoporosis care.

Preventing Fractures in the Elderly

As a clinical leader in The American Orthopaedic Association’s Own the Bone program, we are trying to turn this tide. This quality improvement initiative was designed to provide better osteoporosis treatment and prevent fragility fractures. Through it, the Bone and Joint Institute has established a fracture liaison service in our community.

Our orthopedic professionals work with Hartford Healthcare Community Outreach programs to perform specialized health screenings for osteoporosis and bone density. When these efforts identify patients who have already suffered a fragility fracture, we help to ensure they get appropriate evaluation and treatment. Through our Safe Steps program, we also help patients receiving home care services to prevent falls and maintain their balance skills.

Improving Care for Acute Fragility Fractures

Anyone over the age of 50 who falls from a standing position and experiences a fracture is considered to have a fragility fracture. Because hip fractures have such high morbidity and mortality rates, and their treatment is almost always surgical, this is a strong focus of our fragility fracture program.

People who have suffered an acute fragility fracture are usually elderly people with complicated medical conditions. Here they are treated by a dedicated orthopedic staff specially trained in the care of elderly patients. This includes hospitalists (Internal Medicine physicians), orthopedic nurses and operating room staff. All are trained in specialized treatment protocols that reduce time spent in the emergency room, decrease waiting times for surgical procedures (should be in operating room within 48 hours for hip fractures for instance) and prevent medical complications. This keeps medical costs down and helps people return to their life’s activities sooner. Our best practice treatment protocols are also followed by the select rehabilitation facilities we partner with for post-hospital care.

Our Fragility Fracture program is a key resource center for the Hartford area, leading population health management initiatives to help prevent fractures in the elderly.

Risk Factors for Fragility Fractures

  • History/family history of osteoporosis
  • History of corticosteroid use (i.e. for Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Kidney Disease)
  • History of cancer with chemotherapy or radiation treatment
  • History of heavy smoking
  • Small-framed Caucasian women
  • Small-framed Asian women

Patient Resources

American Orthopaedic Association’s "Own the Bone"
National Osteoporosis Foundation
OrthoInfo - Your Connection to Expert Orthopaedic Information
OrthoInfo - Bone Health
OrthoInfo - Rehab Exercises & Conditioning