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Increase in Diabetes-Related Amputations Shows Pandemic Poses Another Threat for People with Diabetes

Nov 30, 2020

By Seth Rubenstein, DPM
President, American Podiatric Medical Association

As COVID-19 appears to be building momentum worldwide, America’s podiatrists are treating an increased number of clients with complications—but they are not suffering from the coronavirus. Instead, they’re people with diabetes who have delayed care due to fear of the virus. As a result, they are suffering serious complications, ranging from severe diabetes-related foot wounds to gangrene to sepsis. One recently published study indicates diabetes-related amputation rates have tripled since the onset of the pandemic.i


It is vital that people with diabetes continue to receive foot care during the pandemic.


As diabetes care and education specialists, you know people with diabetes are at high risk from COVID-19 and that they should take all appropriate precautions to avoid exposure. We also know that studies have shown regular preventive care by a podiatrist can help prevent hospitalizations and amputations.ii It is vital that people with diabetes continue to receive foot care during the pandemic.

The American Podiatric Medical Association is urging people with diabetes to “Keep Your Appointment. Keep Your Feet.” We’re also encouraging other healthcare providers to join us in this effort. Please counsel your clients to keep their podiatry appointments and pay careful attention to their foot-health needs. Here are some steps you as a diabetes care and education specialist can take to help us stem the rising tide of amputations:

  • Remind patients to stay active, stay alert and stay in contact.
    • Stay active by getting regular exercise and sticking to a healthy diet, despite the temptation to indulge in comfort foods while stuck at home.
    • Stay alert by monitoring blood sugar and A1C. Do a quick and simple daily foot exam to look for any injuries, sores, or changes to the color or temperature of their feet.
    • Stay in contact by keeping regular podiatry appointments and making an appointment right away if they sustain an injury or notice a change during their daily self-exam.
  • Encourage patients to keep all their regular medical appointments. Communicate to your patients the many precautions medical offices are taking to help keep them safe, from social distancing in waiting areas, to requiring masks and temperatures checks, to adding extra PPE for providers. Remind them that telehealth appointments may be available and appropriate. Provide training for schedulers or staff who manage your phones about how to answer questions and concerns.
  • Be sure to check your patients’ feet at every encounter. If you notice a change to the condition of their feet, refer them to local a podiatrist for expert diabetes-related foot care. You can find APMA-member podiatrists in your area atwww.apma.org/findapodiatrist.

I thank you for being a part of this critical effort to help protect our patients and preserve their foot health. The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us as healthcare providers to find new ways to deliver care, but together we can adapt and overcome these challenges to save limbs and lives.

 


References

i. https://doi.org/10.7547/20-224

ii. https://www.apma.org/files/FileDownloads/TR-JAPMA-Article.pdf  


About the Author  

Seth Rubenstein, DPM, is a podiatrist at Foot and Ankle Specialist of the Mid-Atlantic in Reston, Virginia. Visit www.apma.org/diabetes to access more information about APMA’s “Keep Your Appointment. Keep Your Feet” campaign.

 


ADCES Perspectives on Diabetes Care

The Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists Perspectives on Diabetes Care covers diabetes, prediabetes and other cardiometabolic conditions. Not all views expressed reflect the official position of the Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists.

Copyright is owned or held by the Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists and all rights are reserved. Permission is granted, at no cost and without need for further request, to link to, quote, excerpt or reprint from these stories in any medium as long as no text is altered, and proper attribution is made to the Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists.

HEALTHCARE DISCLAIMER: This site and its services do not constitute the practice of medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always talk to your diabetes care and education specialist or healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment, including your specific medical needs. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem or condition, please contact a qualified health care professional immediately. To find a diabetes care and education specialist near you, visit DiabetesEducator.org/Find.

 

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