Spectrum Health’s Geriatric Fracture Program Focuses on Quick Assessment and Treatment for Better Results

As the regional referral center for orthopedic trauma, Spectrum Health has developed a Geriatric Fracture Program to provide specialized care for older adult hip fracture patients.

Terrence Endres, MD, clinical advisor, orthopedic trauma, Spectrum Health, is lead physician of the Geriatric Fracture Program. An orthopedic surgeon specializing in trauma and reconstructive surgery, Dr. Endres is a member of Orthopedic Associates of Michigan. He says that after fracturing a hip, patients have better results the sooner they have treatment.

“Up to one half of individuals who sustain a hip fracture will lose one level of independence. The sooner they are up and going, the better their recovery outcomes will be. In order to start down the road of recovery, patients need to be treated and mobilized as soon as possible,” said Endres.

For older Americans and those with weak bones, hip fractures sustained from serious falls are a concern. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a large percentage of fall-related deaths are due to complications following hip fractures. In fact, one out of five hip fracture patients die within a year of their injury.

Research has found that programs, like Spectrum Health’s, that use evidence-based protocols and co-management of patients by orthopedic surgeons and hospitalists, reduce complications after surgery. These standardized, patient-centered programs also demonstrate low one-year mortality rates, particularly in patients from nursing facilities.

Endres explains that patients who enter the Geriatric Fracture Program are regularly in surgery within 24 hours of their initial visit with an emergency physician. This helps reduce fracture-related complications.

“We’ve designed the Geriatric Fracture Program to ensure that patients are being properly assessed and treated,” said Dr. Endres. “Our goal is to return patients to their normal functions and mobility in as little time as possible.”

Though fractures typically occur in adults, 65 years of age and older, Dr. Endres urges all age levels to take bone health seriously.

“It is not uncommon for hip fractures to occur in people who are in their 40s and 50s,” said Endres.

Although individuals age 85 and older are 10 to 15 times more likely to sustain a hip fracture, age is just one factor. Gender, heredity, nutrition, osteoporosis and pre-existing physical impairments also play a role. The CDC reports that women sustain three-quarters of all hip fractures, with white women much more likely to sustain hip fractures than African-American or Asian women.

To prevent falls and injuries sustained in falls, Endres encourages people to strengthen their bodies.

“Injury prevention is one of the many benefits of regular exercise,” he said. “It improves mobility and balance, reduces joint and muscle pain, and slows the loss of muscle mass and the rate at which bones weaken.”

With most falls occurring in the home, Dr. Endres also advises people to conduct a fall prevention audit of their home. Use the checklist below as a way to help prevent falls at home.

Fall Prevention Checklist

Stairs and Steps
__ Light switches at top and bottom of stairs
__ Good lighting
__ Handrails
__ Clutter-free
__ Non-slip treads or secured carpeting

__ Grab bars
__ Slip-resistant rugs
__ Night lights

Living Areas
__ Clear pathways
__ Light switches at room entrances
__ Secured rugs

__ Secured rugs
__ Stable stepstool with handrail
__ Non-skid floor wax

More information about fall prevention and Spectrum Health’s Geriatric Fracture Program is available at spectrumhealth.org.

Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system in West Michigan offering a full continuum of care through the Spectrum Health Hospital Group, which is comprised of nine hospitals including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, a state of the art children’s hospital that opened in January 2011, and 140 service sites; the Spectrum Health Medical Group and West Michigan Heart, physician groups totaling more than 700 providers; and Priority Health, a health plan with 600,000 members. Spectrum Health is West Michigan’s largest employer with 19,000 employees. The organization provided $204 million in community benefit during its 2012 fiscal year.