Osteoporosis a focus as Orthopaedic Surgery looks to expand services

Bone health experts say there’s an osteoporosis epidemic affecting men and women at alarming rates. More than 53 million Americans either have the disease or are at high risk due to low bone mass, and the numbers are expected to keep rising.

This trend, as reported by the National Institutes of Health, is being seen throughout Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia. Paul Dougherty, MD, a professor and chair of orthopaedic surgery and rehabilitation at the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville, has a plan to help address the issue.

Dougherty wants to develop a special “one-stop” UF Health clinic that will provide comprehensive bone care for at-risk patients in the area. In addition to offering conventional orthopaedic services, specialties would also include radiology, endocrinology and internal medicine, among other disciplines. The idea is to house the clinic at UF Health North, which is soon opening an inpatient bed tower to complement the existing medical office building.

“I think it’ll be a really good clinic to set up in the north. It’s something that’s not available in Jacksonville,” Dougherty said. “It’ll be a much-needed service to the city.”

Another goal is to hire more faculty physicians. Within the next year, Dougherty plans to bring on three new faculty members — one for each of the adult reconstruction, foot and ankle, and trauma surgery subspecialities. Meanwhile, Dougherty, who directs the orthopaedic surgery residency program, wants to see more emphasis on training and research — all in an attempt to further UF Health’s educational mission.

UF Health Orthopaedic Surgery – Jacksonville is made up of an interdisciplinary team of UF faculty physicians and other health care providers with expertise in arthroscopy, sports medicine, joint reconstruction and replacement, trauma and more. The orthopaedic surgeons treat children and adults who have conditions or illnesses involving bones, joints, muscles, ligaments and fascia.

More about Dougherty

Dougherty has been part of the UF Health family since September 2016, coming to Jacksonville from the Detroit Medical Center and Wayne State University in Michigan, where he was a professor and director of its orthopaedic surgery residency program.

Dougherty said he was drawn to the UF COMJ orthopaedics department because of, among other strengths, its faculty and existing training partnerships with other institutions in the region.

“I’m enjoying being here,” he said. “The department has a great foundation, and we’re just looking to build on what’s already in place.”

Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Dougherty served as an orthopaedic surgeon in the U.S. Army, a position that gave him the opportunity to treat wounded soldiers in Somalia and Afghanistan. During his second deployment to Afghanistan, he helped establish a new medical facility that provided comprehensive services to injured military personnel.

Dougherty, who retired from the Army in 2012 as a colonel, has taken a particular research interest in the care of military amputees. He conducted a nearly 30-year follow-up study of service personnel who lost limbs during the Vietnam War due to combat injuries.

Some of his notable research papers have examined how orthopaedic education for physicians is conducted in countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, India and China. He’s now editing a book titled “The Orthopaedic Educator,” which explores differences in orthopaedic surgery training around the world. It details the history and progression of orthopaedic graduate medical education in the United States and outlines the elements that make for a successful training program.

Dougherty authored three of the 12 chapters of the book, which is set to be published later this year.

Featured Faculty

Paul J. Dougherty, MD

Paul J. Dougherty, MD

Chair, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation; Program Director, Orthopaedic Surgery Residency