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AHIA calls for clinical testing of all prostheses.

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Australian Health Insurance Association Ltd (ABN 35 008 621 994 - A COMPANY LIMITED BY GUARANTEE - INCORPORATED IN THE A.C.T.)


NATIONAL SECRETARIAT: 4 Campion Street Deakin ACT 2600

CHIEF EXECUTIVE: Hon Dr Michael Armitage

Telephone: (02) 6285 2977 Fax: (02) 6285 2959 Email:

11th October 2006


AHIA calls for clinical testing of all prostheses

The Australian Health Insurance Association (AHIA) has called upon the Federal Government to move immediately to implement appropriate clinical testing for all prostheses used in Australia.

In a letter addressed to the Federal Health Minister, Hon Tony Abbott, AHIA Chief Executive Officer, Hon Dr Michael Armitage, demanded that the Commonwealth Government subject all prostheses used in Australian patients to clinical trialling and that evidence be presented to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and the public prior to authorisation of their use.

Currently, there are insufficient clinical testing requirements applying to the use of prostheses in the Australian health care system. While new prostheses continue to be produced, none of just over 100 new components recently tested performed better than previously approved prostheses although new prostheses are almost universally at the top end of the market with respect to their cost (as reported in Graves & Wells (2006), A Review of Joint Replacement Surgery and its Outcomes: Appropriateness of Prostheses and Patient Selection).

'The Australian Health Insurance Association stands shoulder-to-shoulder with our members as advocates for safer, better-quality health care on behalf of consumers,' said Dr Armitage.

'There is increasingly alarming evidence regarding the failure rate of major joint prostheses. Compulsory clinical trialling for all prostheses used in Australian patients would see failure rates drop, which is in the best interests of all patients,' Dr Armitage said.

Approximately 65,000 joint replacement procedures have been performed in Australia in 2006, with the estimated total acute care cost for the year to exceed $1 billion. An estimated 20-25% of all hip and knee replacements in Australia fail, requiring patients to undergo revision surgery. This is compared to Sweden's revision rate of 10% for hip and knee replacement surgery.


'If Australia's rate of revision were to be reduced to be equivalent to figures from Sweden, there would be 3250 fewer revisions of joint replacements each year. This would save up to $162 million per annum, not to mention severely reducing the number of people facing the anxiety of revision joint replacement surgery,' Dr Armitage said.

The AHIA has recently established a website called Health Alerts (, to make people aware of the potential for a better health care system for all Australians. The website provides a forum through which individuals are alerted to issues arising from the health care community and can in turn share their health care experiences.

For further information, or to arrange an interview with Dr Armitage, please contact (02) 6285 2977 during office hours or (02) 6161 6033 after hours.