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The Broken Hip: This North Texas Hospital Helps Patients From Falling

A North Texas hospital is working to reduce falls among patients, thanks to technology and teamwork.

At John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, nurses and pharmacists work together to help patients. They're using electronic medical records -- and high-tech bed alarms that speak to patients. 

That’s the latest story in The Broken Hip, an ongoing KERA News Breakthroughs series that explores the issues surrounding this serious medical issue. Read the story here.

Panel discussion Tuesday

Join KERA at 6 p.m. Tuesday for a live panel discussion on The Broken Hip series. The event is at Baylor’s Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center. Learn about the latest research, ask questions and share your story. RSVPs are required. Learn more here. And register here.

When an older person falls and breaks a hip, it’s a moment that changes everything. Not just for patients, but for their families, too. Falls are the leading cause of death for older Americans. One of every five people who breaks a hip after age 50 dies within a year. For those who survive, it means a big life change.

Explore the stories of North Texans and their families who have experienced this dramatic life change. Learn more about the research. And find out how to make your bedroom fall-proof in an interactive graphic.

There are videos, radio stories and pictures to explore, too.

Previous stories from KERA's Lauren Silverman include:

Chapter 8: Another type of fracture, just inches away from the hip, is becoming more common. Pelvic fractures can be just as devastating as hip fractures, and often take longer to heal. A broken pelvis brought one North Texas family closer together. Yu-ying Lee, who's 91, bounced back from a broken pelvis thanks in part to a supportive family. Read Chapter 8 of The Broken Hip.

Chapter 7: Finding out the price of a new car or a new phone isn’t so hard. But how about the price of a new hip? The cost of medical procedures like hip replacements can vary by thousands of dollars – even tens of thousands of dollars. Sean Cavanaugh, deputy director of the federal government’s Center of Medicare, talks about who’s paying what and why. Read Chapter 7 of The Broken Hip.

Chapter 6: Repairing a broken hip has come a long way in the last century -- from ivory and rubber to precision titanium implants. The era of modern hip replacements started in the 1960s – and surgery techniques and biomaterial designs have evolved. Today, about 2.5 million Americans live with an artificial hip. Read Chapter 6 of The Broken Hip.

Chapter 5: Dan McCoy knows the health care system inside and out. He’s a doctor and chief medical officer of the biggest insurer in Texas, Blue Cross Blue Shield. But even he couldn’t imagine what would happen after his dad fell and fractured his hip. Read Chapter 5 of The Broken Hip.

Chapter 4: For Courtney Sands, last year was a nightmare. In December, at age 81, Sands landed in a hospital after slipping and breaking her wrist and hip. But she was determined to get back to her beloved home. Home design and technology have changed dramatically over the last two decades. Someone who's fractured a hip might once have been forced into a nursing home. Now it's possible to “age in place.” Sands' desire to "fall-proof" her home is the focus of Chapter 4 of The Broken Hip.

Chapter 3: Nine years ago, Joyce Powell was in a hospital, on her way to the bathroom, when she fell and broke her hip. She recovered. But there’s something she hasn’t gotten over: A fear of falling. It might sound silly, but it turns out that people who are afraid of falling are actually more likely to fall. That’s why Powell attends a fall prevention class at the University of Texas at Arlington: not just to get stronger, but to face her demons. Read Chapter 3 of The Broken Hip.

Chapter 2: Barb Smelser is a North Carolina woman who frequently travels across the country to take care of her elderly father, Earl Schmalz, who fell and broke his hip. Learn about the special challenges that caregivers face. Read Chapter 2 of The Broken Hip.

Chapter 1:  Jeanette Mariani was an independent grandma. Then she fell and broke her hip – and everything changed. Read Chapter 1 of The Broken Hip.

Also, in May, “Think” host Krys Boyd explored hip fractures with medical experts Dr. Alan Jones of Baylor Medical Center and Dr. William Tucker of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. Listen to that conversation here.