Expedited care addresses needs of geriatric fracture patients

May 28, 2010

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Older adults who present at Saint Luke's Hospital with bone fractures will benefit from expedited care through a new program designed to foster a more rapid and complete recovery.

More than one third of adults over age 65 in the U.S. fall each year, resulting in bone fractures. Falls are the leading cause of injury deaths and the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma. Timely medical assessment and intervention can not only reduce negative fall-related effects, but improve outcomes with a faster, more complete recovery.

The new Geriatric Fracture Program at Saint Luke's addresses the special needs of the geriatric fracture patient. The program launched in April and targets individuals age 65 and older with lower extremity fractures of the hip, leg and ankle.

The new approach to care begins with streamlined care protocols. “We've re-engineered our clinical paths to help patients achieve better outcomes starting the moment they present at the hospital,” said orthopaedic surgeon Josh Niemann, M.D. “Our goals are to decrease admission to surgery time, resulting in faster recovery, fewer complications and an increased likelihood of return to pre-injury levels of mobility for our geriatric fracture patients.”

Treatment begins with a comprehensive assessment by an experienced team that includes specialists in orthopaedics, geriatrics, internal medicine, hospital medicine, emergency medicine, physical therapy, occupational therapy, anesthesia, pharmacy, nursing, social work and discharge planning. The team worked to devise new treatment protocols involving the complete continuum of care resulting in:

  • Rapid evaluation of suspected fracture cases
  • Streamlined admission process to reduce or eliminate time spent waiting in the Emergency Room for treatment
  • Expedited fracture surgery for repair of the broken bone, within 24 hours of admission when appropriate
  • Daily evaluation to ensure earlier mobility and faster recovery
  • Effective pain management through medical and/or surgical intervention
  • Faster initiation of rehabilitation (physical/occupational therapy)
  • Reduction of negative fall-related effects
  • Discharge planning incorporating post-hospitalization rehabilitation, home health services and/or nursing home rehabilitative services
  • Improved outcomes as a result of care dedicated exclusively to the management of the geriatric fracture patient