Taiwan lauds benefits of joint replacement registry

Health care officials on Tuesday extolled the virtues of the joint replacement registry Taiwan launched in January, when it became the first country in Asia to introduce the system to collect information on arthroplasty procedures and outcomes.

The registry system originated in Sweden in 1979 and has since been adopted by over 20 countries around the world, including Denmark, Norway, Finland, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, according to the National Health Insurance Administration (NHIA).

The United Kingdom now has the world's largest joint replacement database after introducing the system 10 years ago.

At a news conference, NHIA Director-General Lee Po-chang (???) said one advantage of having a database on joint replacement surgeries is that it enables health authorities to identify and eliminate inferior artificial joints, reducing the need for second surgeries, lowering mortality rates and limiting unnecessary medical spending.

The U.K. database, for example, revealed that patients with artificial joints from a particular brand often developed problems after surgery, forcing the vendor to recall its products, said Ku Ming-chou (???), vice president of Show Chwan Health Care System.

Statistics compiled by the NHIA indicate that 0.6 percent of patients who underwent joint replacement surgery needed a second operation after one year and 2 percent needed a second operation after five years.

According to Ku, when patients need a second procedure after just one year, infection is most likely to blame, while the need for a second surgery five years after the first is most likely related to the surgeon's skills.

In cases where patients need a second surgery after 10 years, the brand of the artificial joint used may be at fault, he said.

Besides exposing inferior products, the joint replacement database also allows health authorities to see which hospitals are more likely to perform second surgeries and gives doctors access to information on previous surgeries, which can help simplify operations and lower the risks involved, he said.

In the six months after the registry was launched, information on 5,336 joint replacement surgeries performed by 55 hospitals in Taiwan was uploaded to the registry, about 22 percent of the 23,717 such surgeries performed at 230 hospitals during that time, NHIA statistics show.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel