Health News Diabetic Foot Disease Costing Patients And Hospitals Millions

An Australian study shows diabetic foot disease costs hospitals and patients millions of dollars annually - while over half of the cases could be prevented. 

Diabetic Foot Disease Costing Patients Hospitals Millions

Diabetes diagnosis rates in the United States may be slowing, but that hasn’t stopped diabetic foot disease and issues to run rampant. Thousands of diabetics struggle with neuropathy, numbness, sores and other problems with their feet and a recent Australian study shows the diabetic foot issue may be more serious than anyone thought.

Diabetic Foot Problems: Expensive and Deadly

Researchers at the Queensland University of Technology found that one in 22 patients in Australian hospitals have active diabetic foot disease, and the annual direct cost of diabetic foot disease in Australia is $350 million as well as a total of 4,400 amputations and nearly 1,700 deaths each year.

“Our study, which investigated a representative sample of hospitalized patients in five hospitals across metropolitan and regional Queensland, found 4.6% of all patients had active foot disease and nearly half of those were in hospital because of their diabetic foot disease,” Peter Lazzarini, senior research fellow at Queensland University of Technology, a PhD candidate and co-chair of Diabetic Foot Australia, said in a university press release. “This equates to 27,600 hospitalizations each year caused by diabetic foot disease in Australia, which puts diabetic foot disease easily in the top 20 causes of hospitalization in Australia.”

How To Prevent Diabetic Foot Issues

Unfortunately, as Lazzarini also points out, people hospitalized because of diabetic foot disease rarely receive the recommended multidisciplinary foot care needed to properly treat their disease in the year prior to being hospitalized. “This seems to confirm our thoughts that people with diabetic foot disease that do not see a multidisciplinary foot disease team are more likely to end up in hospital,” he says, adding that diabetic foot disease is readily preventable if diagnosed and treated early. In fact, he says multidisciplinary foot care can prevent about half of all hospitalizations, amputations and other costs of care. 

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Lazzarini agrees with most foot care experts in that diabetics — whether in Australia, the United States, or anywhere else in the world — should have their feet screened for diabetic foot disease, should be seen by a multidisciplinary foot disease team both in and out of the hospital and should see their general practitioner or podiatrist at least once a year for a foot screen.

“We know these simple preventative measures can save our hospital system millions and millions of dollars each year,” he says. “But most importantly, [they can] change the lives of thousands of [patients] with diabetes by empowering them to keep both their feet firmly on the ground and out of hospital.”

For more on diabetic foot issues, check out Footfiles' complete Diabetic Foot Care section.

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