The clinical care of patients with hip and knee osteoarthritis in Northern Tasmania: A challenge and an opportunity

Mr David Jovic1

1.THS-north West Launceston Tasmania

Osteoarthritis is highly prevalent in Tasmania. The primary objective is to assess the reliability of Physiotherapy assessment of chronic knee and hip pain, when compared to an Orthopaedic Surgeon. The secondary outcomes focus on the quality of care currently being delivered to patients with hip and knee OA in Northern Tasmania.

The study assessed all patients with hip or knee osteoarthritis, greater than 50 years old, referred to 2 Orthopaedic Consultants at Launceston General Hospital Orthopaedic Department. Patients were assessed by both Orthopaedic Consultant and an experienced post-graduate trained Physiotherapist. Assessment of this patient group included key demographics, patient reported outcome measures related to OA, assessment of conservative care and routine Physiotherapy/Orthopaedic assessment. The clinical diagnosis and treatment plan were compared.

36 patients have been through the assessment process to this point. Main results will be available by November. Physiotherapy assessment agreed with Orthopaedic Consultant assessment in 86% of cases. The cases of disagreement were all deemed to be low risk by an independent Orthopaedic Consultant. Potential surgical conversion rate has increased from 61% to 92%. Assessment of conservative care indicates that care delivered prior to Orthopaedic referral generally focuses on analgesia, despite high levels of inactivity, physical impairments and obesity being present in this cohort. Patient satisfaction with this process was very high.

The clinical pathway for patients in Northern Tasmania seems to be analgesia followed by referral to Orthopaedic surgeon. Many patients referred to the Orthopaedic Clinic have minimal access to other conservative care, despite the fact that 80% of this cohort were physically inactive, 70% were overweight or obese and 60% feel they are not confident to manage there OA by themselves.


Dave is a Physiotherapist in Launceston.
He splits his work between private practice and the Launceston General Hospital, where he is the Clinical Lead for Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy.

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