Slow foot care to blame for diabetic amputations

Mon, 25 Feb 2013
A new report has warned that thousands of diabetes-related foot amputations occur each year due to slow care of serious foot problems .

The report, titled 'Fast Track for a Foot Attack: Reducing Amputations', says that people with diabetes are more than 20 times more likely to have an amputation than the rest of the population.

High blood sugar levels over time can affect blood flow to the feet and cause nerve damage, leading to foot ulcers and infections . Ulcers can deteriorate extremely quickly and a matter of hours can make the difference between keeping a foot and having it amputated.

But the report from Diabetes UK, NHS Diabetes, and the Society for Chiropodists and Podiatrists warns that diabetic patients are suffering because many areas do not have services in place to quickly treat foot ulcers and infections.

It adds that up to 80% of the 6,000 diabetes-related amputations that take place each year could be prevented if better care was in place.

To improve NHS care, the report puts forward a number of recommendations, including making sure all hospitals have a multi-disciplinary foot care team for diabetic patients (as recommended in national guidelines) that can guarantee urgent foot problems are assessed within 24 hours.

It also states that every area should have a system for identifying and frequently reviewing people at high risk of foot ulcers and infection, and that such patients should trained about what to look out for and what action to take when a problem develops.

"If every hospital had a multi-disciplinary footcare team and ensured access to that team within 24 hours, then that would make a huge difference to the amputation rates," said Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK .

She added that implementing these kinds of systems would actually save the NHS money, as well as limbs.
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