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Evaluating an osteoporosis screening program

Shay Pratt October 14, 2011

Another question we recently received with regard to geriatric services is: What about building an osteoporosis screening and/or fall prevention clinic?

As hospitals turn to preventive and screening services to improve utilization management and increase upstream market share, screening for osteoporosis and efforts to prevent falls offer an option for reducing fracture rates among frail, elderly patients. Estimates suggest that half of women are at risk of osteoporosis-related fractures during their lifetime.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued guidelines earlier this year that gave a “B” recommendation to osteoporosis screening for women ages 65 or older and younger women with fracture risk factors. Though the report concludes that “No controlled studies have evaluated the effect of screening for osteoporosis on fracture rates or fracture-related morbidity or mortality,” it still finds enough evidence to conclude that drug therapies reduce the risk of fractures and that “the benefit of screening-detected osteoporosis is at least moderate” for women. The USPSTF did not find enough evidence to recommend osteoporosis screening in men, who are at lower rates of osteoporosis-related fractures. Similarly, in a draft statement, USPSTF gave a “B” recommendation to some falls prevention efforts.

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