Failure in the application of fragility fracture prevention guidelines

Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 2014 Jul;96(5):381-5. doi: 10.1308/003588414X13946184901164.


Introduction: The cost of fragility fractures to the UK economy is predicted to reach £2.2 billion by 2025. We studied our hip fracture population to establish whether national guidelines on fragility fracture prevention were being followed, and whether high risk patients were identified and treated by local care services.

Methods: Data on a consecutive series of trauma hip fracture admissions were collected prospectively over 14 months. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and National Osteoporosis Guideline Group (NOGG) recommendations and FRAX(®) risk calculations were applied to patients prior to their admission with a new hip fracture.

Results: Overall, 94 patients were assessed against national guidelines. The mean population age was 77 years. Almost a quarter (22%) of patients had suffered a previous fragility fracture. The mean FRAX(®) ten-year probability of hip fracture was 7%. According to guidelines, 45% of the study population required treatment, 35% fulfilled criteria for investigation and reassessment, and 20% needed no further management. In practice, 27% received treatment, 4% had undergone dual energy x-ray absorptiometry and were untreated, and 69% had not been investigated and were untreated. In patients meeting intervention thresholds, only 33% of those who required treatment were receiving treatment in practice.

Conclusions: In conjunction with NICE and NOGG recommendations, FRAX(®) was able to identify 80% of our fracture population as intermediate or high risk on the day of fracture. Correct management was evident in a third of cases with a pattern of inferior guideline compliance seen in a London population. There remains a lack of clarity over the duty of care in fragility fracture prevention.

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bone Density / physiology
  • Female
  • Fractures, Spontaneous / prevention & control*
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Hip Fractures / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • London
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoporotic Fractures / prevention & control*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment / methods