A SERVICE at Musgrove Park Hospital that identifies patients at risk of osteoporosis has been awarded an international gold standard.
Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens bones, making them fragile and more likely to break.
It develops slowly over several years and is often only diagnosed when a minor fall or sudden impact causes a bone fracture.
The International Osteoporosis Foundation has praised the Taunton hospital as providing “gold standard care” following a review that looked at the way patients with fragile bones were identified and treated at the hospital after a fall or fracture.
The review looked at how Musgrove performed against a set of 13 standards, including how quickly patients were assessed, what services were available to prevent falls, how well medication was handled, and how long term conditions were managed.
The hospital came out with a score of 87 per cent, which gave it a gold standard.
Musgrove’s fracture liaison service assesses all patients over 50 who have sustained a fracture following a low trauma fall to check whether they have osteoporosis or brittle bones.
The service works closely with other departments at the hospital, such as orthopaedic wards, fracture outpatient clinic and emergency department, to identify patients who could benefit from a bone health assessment.
Following an assessment, patients are offered appropriate treatment and advice by clinicians, such as making changes to their lifestyle and how best to manage long term conditions.
They are also given two follow-up appointments in the next 12 months to check that their medication is still effective.
The service has seen almost 2,000 patients since it was established in November 2015.
Almost 1,100 patients have been prescribed bone sparing medication, and a further 220 have been advised to take calcium or vitamin D supplements.
It is funded by Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group and is supported by the National Osteoporosis Society.
Nicola Davies, a patient from Minehead, recently fractured her ankle and was diagnosed with osteoporosis, or brittle bones.
“I was very pleased at the positive way I was identified and am impressed with the whole idea of a prevention service,” she said.
“After fracturing my ankle I received a letter from Musgrove’s fracture liaison service with an appointment for a DXA scan (Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry), as well as an outpatient review with a specialist nurse.
“When I was first told I had osteoporosis and needed medication for my bones I was naturally upset, but looking back I think it was better to know in this incidence as I now may be able to avoid my mother’s fate of a collapsing spine.
“I was also invited to an ‘osteoporosis and you’ information session, which I found really helpful and I can’t thank the team at Musgrove enough.”
Dr Tarun Solanki, care of the elderly consultant at Musgrove Park Hospital, said: “We are very pleased to have gained this gold standard as it shows that the diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis in Somerset patients is of the highest standard.
“A lot of work has been done at the hospital to achieve this, including the development of a new system to identify fractures of the vertebrae during any X-Ray scan.
“While it is too early to show a reduction in the number of patients attending hospital with fractures, we do expect it to have an impact over the next 10 years.
“This month we also launched our first patient education session, and through this we have identified volunteers to establish an osteoporosis patient support group in Taunton.”