The sooner foot ulcers get treated, the more likely they will eventually heal, according to a major review of medical records in the UK.
The National Diabetes Foot Care Audit (NAFA) followed 5,000 patient appointment visits in the UK for a year. With audit data, researchers tracked whether those who sought treatment for a diabetic foot ulcer from a podiatrist within two weeks had better medical outcomes than those who waited two weeks or more. What they found is that those who waited to see a podiatrist were twice as likely to still have the ulcer after 12 weeks. Overall, half of all people who sought podiatric care for a foot ulcer were ulcer-free after 12 weeks.
According to the audit, roughly 1 in 10 people with diabetes will have a foot ulcer in their lifetimes, and treatment is vital. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, approximately 14 percent to 24 percent of patients with diabetes who develop a foot ulcer will require amputation.
The audit sent questionnaires to staff organizing basic care under the UK National Health System. They used responses to track patient appointments between 2014 and 2015.
Unfortunately, researchers found that the UK primary care system didn’t have the right knowledge or support in place to provide basic diabetes foot care. Some 40 percent of respondents couldn’t answer all the questions of the audit. Of these who responded completely, 45 percent didn’t have all the recommended protocols in place to prevent or manage diabetic foot issues. It is quite possible that such gaps in the health care system could delay proper podiatric care for diabetic foot ulcers.
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