Background: Despite the high risk for future fractures and the availability of effective treatments, fewer than 10% to 20% of patients who sustain a fragility fracture are tested or treated for osteoporosis.
Objectives: To improve rates of testing and treatment for osteoporosis in patients with wrist fractures who are seen in the emergency department.
Design: Nonrandomized, controlled trial with blinded ascertainment of outcomes.
Setting: Emergency departments in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Patients: Persons 50 years of age or older who were treated for a wrist fracture and their physicians. Patients admitted to the hospital or treated for osteoporosis were excluded. Overall, 572 consecutive patients with fractures were screened, and 102 patients (55 intervention, 47 control) and 101 physicians were studied.
Measurements: The primary end point was the prescription of osteoporosis treatment 6 months after fracture. Secondary end points included rates of testing for bone mineral density and patients' knowledge, satisfaction, and quality of life.
Intervention: Faxed physician reminders that contained osteoporosis treatment guidelines endorsed by local opinion leaders and patient education. Control patients received usual care and information about falls and home safety.
Results: The median patient age was 66 years. Most patients were female (78%) and white (79%); 70% of patients reported a previous fracture, and 22% had a fall with injury in the previous year. The intervention increased the rates of testing for bone mineral density to 62% (vs. 17% for controls; adjusted relative increase, 3.6 [P < 0.001]) and the rates of osteoporosis treatment to 40% (vs. 10% for controls; adjusted relative increase, 3.8 [P = 0.002]) within 6 months of fracture. Intervention patients were more likely to report a diagnosis of osteoporosis, but other patient-reported outcomes did not differ significantly between groups.
Limitations: This was a small, nonrandomized, controlled study with process-based outcomes.
Conclusions: In a multifaceted intervention directed at patients and their physicians, the rates of testing and treatment for osteoporosis after emergency department care for a fragility fracture were more than 3 times those of controls.