Poor bone health costing Aust billions

Sarah Wiedersehn
(Australian Associated Press)


A failure to prevent fractures as a result of poor bone health is costing the nation billions of dollars each year, according to a new report.

Analysis released by Osteoporosis Australia estimates the brittle bones of Australians aged 50 and over is expected to cost $3.1 billion in 2017, this will climb to $21.9 billion by 2022.

Osteoporosis Australia Medical Director Professor Peter Ebeling AO says hospitals are becoming “revolving doors” for fracture patients because of a failure to detect or test for osteoporosis.

“Four-out-of-five Australians treated for an osteoporotic fracture are not tested for osteoporosis, and therefore, are not offered treatment for osteoporosis,” said Professor Ebeling.

There is a significant gap in osteoporosis care, he says, and greater awareness is needed to reduce the burden.

Osteoporosis is a disease that leads to reduced bone strength through a loss of density and quality, weakening the skeleton.

It affects 1.2 million Australians and is estimated to result in a bone being broken every 3.3 minutes.

Not only does osteoporosis have a burden on the hospital system, it has a human toll too.

A report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) last year showed one in 20 deaths in 2013 were directly caused by, or contributed to, by musculoskeletal conditions.

Osteoporosis made the greatest contribution to mortality – contributing to more than 1600 deaths.

The SOS Fracture Alliance, to be launched on Tuesday, will seek to increase national recognition of undiagnosed osteoporosis.

It’s aim is to make the first break in a osteoporosis patient their last.

“A broken bone is usually a sign that we need to take action to prevent more bone loss, as each fracture significantly raises the risk of a further fracture,” said Prof Ebeling.

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