Osteoporosis is an common bone disease, especially in women over the age of fifty. While many medications have proven to be effective in the treatment of osteoporosis, recent studies link a class of drugs called biphosphonates to thigh fractures. Two examples of biphosphonates that are used to treat osteoporosis are Fosamax and Actonel. The University Hospitals of Geneva conducted a study that was published by the American Medical Association to determine the risks of taking biphosphonates.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the study included 477 osteoporosis patients over the age of 50. Of these patients, 39 were inflicted with thigh fractures that are associated with biphosphonate drugs. These thigh fractures are particularly unusual because they occur upon minimal to no impact. For instance, some patients experienced these types of fractures from stepping off a curb. Of these 39 patients, 32 were taking a biphosphonate drug and 11 had fractures in both legs. The study concluded that although biphosphonate drugs are effective in treating osteoporosis, after three to five years, patients should consult their doctors about continuing on this drug regime. At this point, the risks of using biphosphonate drugs may outweigh the benefits.
This new information on medication for osteoporosis highlights the need for skilled nursing facilities to continually train and educate their staff. A nursing home with high quality care must take a broader approach to care of their patients. Although Registered Nurses (RNs) play an extremely important role in the care of nursing home residents, other types of staff are necessary as well. For instance, in this specific case, nursing homes need to employ bone specialists, dieticians, and physical therapists that have the most current information on osteoporosis treatments and can provide osteoporosis patients with the care that they require.
The involvement of multiple parties and disciplines in the care of an individual, however, also requires effective communication. Documentation of medical conditions becomes even more important because doctors, nurses, specialists, and therapists need to have accurate information about a patient’s health condition in order to provide the most effective care. When medications are involved, as is the case with these osteoporosis drugs, it is particularly important to accurately document a patient’s health condition. Often, when caregivers are not aware of other medications already being prescribed to the patient, polypharmacy occurs. Although polypharmacy may seem unrelated to this case with osteoporosis treatments, this new research on biphosphonate drugs definitely highlights the importance of communication and collaboration among the various fields of medicine.
Finding a nursing home with an adequate amount of highly-trained staff is the key to making sure your loved one receives the care that he or she deserves. If you feel that your loved one’s nursing home is failing to provide proper osteoporosis care, he or she may be a victim of nursing home neglect. Serving the communities of Bell Gardens, Beverly Hills, and Bradbury, we encourage you to contact us today to see how we can help you or your loved one.