AOPA Statement on 3-D Printing in Prosthetics and Frequent Errant Estimates of the Average Cost of Upper and Lower Limb Custom-Fabricated Prosthetic Devices


America’s prosthetic and orthotic health professionals deliver patient – centered care each day to persons of all ages whose mobility has been compromised by limb loss and chronic limb impairment.  This includes the commitment for trained, licensed and accredited health professionals delivering cost efficient care that also meets all patient protections established via federal and state statutes and rules, utilizing devices that satisfy all FDA requirements.  We are intrigued by the emerging 3-D technologies outlined in several recent TV, print and Web-based media reports, while noting that in many cases the care featured involves instances that do not fully comply with FDA rules and/or federal or state licensure and accreditation requirements.  We must also underscore that these reports frequently include serious inaccuracies in characterizing current costs of federally compliant advanced upper extremity prosthetics as between $40,000 and $80,000, when actual costs are often only about one-twentieth of those amounts ($1,500 to $5,000).  All who share a true commitment to quality care would strongly encourage media involved in preparing and fact-checking such reports to be cognizant of these rampant inaccuracies, even as we all watch with great interest how new and promising patient treatment options may be evolving.