HealthDay News — The use of hyaluronic acid (HA) injections for knee osteoarthritis in Medicare beneficiaries increased substantially from 2012 to 2018, according to a study published online Dec. 13 in the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

Kevin Y. Zhu, from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, and colleagues used the 2012 to 2018 Medicare Fee-for-Service Provider Utilization and Payment Public Use Files to examine changes in overall utilization and health care costs associated with HA injections among Medicare beneficiaries.

The researchers observed a significant increase in total HA utilization, from 1,090,503 to 1,209,489 from 2012 to 2018. There were no significant changes in orthopedic surgeons’ total utilization rates, but there was a significant increase in the average number of services per orthopedic surgeon. There was a significant increase seen in utilization and associated costs among physician assistants and nurse practitioners, reflecting a substantial growth in the number of advanced practice providers providing injections. There was a significant increase in total costs associated with HA services, from $290.10 million to $325.02 million.

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“In light of the limited evidence supporting HA, as well as the potential complications associated with its use, our findings call for stronger utilization policies to be implemented by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and related specialty leadership organizations,” the authors write.

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