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DHB Fraction Liaison Service joins Gold Standard ranks

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Waitematā DHB’s efforts to curb one of the most damaging and costly causes of injury for older Kiwis have earned it top recognition with the International Osteoporosis Foundation.

The DHB’s fracture liaison service (FLS) has received international Gold Standard recognition from the foundation for its work in preventing injuries from falls and accidents among people aged 65 and older.

Among patients to benefit from the service is Dale Ryburn.

Mrs Ryburn fractured her arm in late January. The team picked her case up via the North Shore Hospital Emergency Department trauma list and got in touch, asking if she would like to undergo a bone density scan. She had the scan in March, which showed that, at 58, she had developed osteoporosis.

"I was shocked when I got my diagnosis but the DHB team has been awesome, I can’t complain or fault them on anything," she says.

Mrs Ryburn had her first bone protection infusion this month.

"It was very simple from when they called to getting my first treatment. I was fine about it because now I know I am getting it sorted."

Waitematā DHB was the first in the country to establish a FLS in 2012 and IOF Capture the Fracture® Steering Group Member Adjunct Associate Professor Paul Mitchell says it has been a guiding light ever since.

"Waitematā is a beacon of best-practice across the country. On a global level, they’ve been an innovator that’s ahead of the curve."

Falls are the most common cause of injury for New Zealanders aged over-65. Up to 60 percent suffer falls each year and 10 to 20 percent of these people are injured, hospitalised or die as a result. ACC spends nearly $200 million per annum helping over-65s recover from falls. Without effective fall and fracture prevention interventions, this cost is expected to increase to $400m by 2035.

ACC Manager Targeted Investment Paul Kennedy is leading the organisation’s work to reduce the social, personal and economic impact of falls.

"Fracture liaison services play a critical role in identifying the underlying issues that could lead to a fracture and putting individualised plans in place to reduce that risk.

"DHBs like Waitematā recognise that a good fracture liaison service can systematically reduce serious fractures from falls by 30-50 percent. With the population of over-65s expected to double to 1.2 million by 2035, it’s a no-brainer for us to invest in a programme that can address the resulting increase in demand on NZ’s health system.

"Waitematā has done a lot to achieve this Gold Standard they’re at the front of the pack."

Endocrinologist Dr David Kim has been involved with Waitematā DHB’s FLS since its inception and has been leading the service since 2014. His dedicated team of FLS clinical nurse specialists, Michelle Cowley and Julia Spinley, identify and intervene in around 1500 cases per year.

Michelle Cowley with the team’s Gold Standard recognition. Click here for high-res image access.

"It was huge when we learned we had achieved the Gold Standard, the whole team was absolutely exalted. It means that if people within our DHB suffer a fragility fracture, even if they don’t realise

they have a problem, they can be confident that our system will detect them and make sure they are appropriately evaluated and treated."

"We’ve always been leaders in the New Zealand fracture liaison service scene but we will continue to strive to provide a better service to our population."

Osteoporosis NZ Executive Director Dr Christine Gill says achieving the Gold Standard in the middle of a pandemic is "fantastic".

"Dr Kim has been phenomenal in his drive, so it’s great for the public to know that Waitematā is providing the best system of care."

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