As the world’s waistline continue to expand, we are also seeing an increase in global diabetes rates. Although we are getting better at controlling the effects of diabetes, it remains one of the most important challenges facing healthcare systems. Diabetic foot disease is just one side effect of diabetes, and experts say we need a renewed focus on preventing the condition.
Many diabetics know that their feet are very susceptible to injury, which left untreated can lead to infection, disease and even amputation. The problem is, even though doctors and patients know their legs are potential areas of concern, far too many people are losing legs to diabetes. That’s why researchers at the Seventh International Symposium on the Diabetic Foot decided to come up with new guidelines and objectives to help improve patient outcomes.
“Results continue to show that too many patients fail to receive timely and optimum treatment in both the ambulatory and inpatient settings,” said Dr. Benjamin Lipsky and colleagues.
USA Not Immune
Many people think that Americans do a good job of controlling the side effects of diabetes, but that’s not completely true. According to researchers, we lack a national healthcare system that ensures the timely and appropriate care for patients with diabetic foot disease.
Data from 2006 to 2010 shows that the US spends nearly $2 billion annually to treat patients with diabetic foot ulcers in emergency departments alone, and that number skyrockets to $9 billion when inpatient charges are added. More importantly, even with those exorbitantly high costs, emergency room data uncovered that about 2% of those admitted with diabetic foot disease died, 10% contracted sepsis and another 10% needed to have their foot amputated. The findings also uncovered that poor individuals were much more likely to have their foot amputated.
“In the US, there are already organized wound-care centers and all the disciplines needed to treat diabetic foot disease, but they are mainly organized in private centers, so they are probably more accessible to the rich but not to the poor,” said Kristien Van Acker, MD, chair, International Working Group on Diabetic Foot.
Some recommendations put forth by the group include:
Offering timely and appropriate care to patients at risk for an amputation.
Improving diabetic care to the poor in the United States.
Streamlining communication between large patient organizations, general practitioners, the media and charitable organizations to provide better care and help raise awareness about diabetic foot disease.
Targeting at-risk patients and encouraging them to take personal responsibility to prevent ulcers through well-established proactive measures.
“We have scientific champions for diabetic foot disease in the US, but we need implementation champions as well,” Dr Van Acker said. “And we need to expand their efforts through patient organizations that are already well-organized.”