Podiatric Care Reduces Amputation Risk in Diabetes

Lowers foot amputation risk 18 percent for Medicare, 15 percent for non-Medicare patients
By Jeff Muise
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Aug. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Foot amputation or hospitalization resulting from foot ulcers in diabetes patients can be prevented or delayed with timely care from a podiatrist, and increased podiatry use by diabetes patients may result in substantial health care cost savings, according to research presented at the annual scientific meeting of the American Podiatric Medical Association, held from July 15 to 18 in Seattle.

Teresa Gibson, Ph.D. of Thomson Reuters in Detroit, and colleagues examined records from the Thomson Reuters MarketScan Research Databases from 2005 to 2008 for 28,796 non-Medicare and 35,721 Medicare patients with diabetes. The researchers compared amputation and hospitalization risks for subjects who saw podiatrists at least once before their diagnosis of a foot ulcer and patients who didn't see podiatrists.

The researchers found that non-Medicare patients with a foot ulcer who had podiatric care had a 15 percent lower risk of amputation and a 17 percent lower risk of hospitalization than those who did not receive podiatric care. Medicare patients with a foot ulcer who had podiatric care had an 18 percent lower risk of amputation, a 23 percent lower risk of major amputation, and a 9 percent lower risk of hospitalization than those who did not see a podiatrist. Costs were lower in the cohort receiving podiatric care. For patients aged 18 to 64, each dollar spent on podiatric care resulted in a $27 to $51 savings, while in the 65 and older age group, the savings were $9 to $13.

"Care by podiatrists prior to the first evidence of foot ulcers in patients with diabetes prevents or delays lower extremity amputations and hospitalizations. Increased utilization of care by podiatrists in patients with diabetes can potentially result in significant direct health care cost savings," the authors write.

The study was funded by the American Podiatric Medical Association.

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