Timely referral of diabetes patients crucial to preventing limb amputations, says Scientist


 Yusuff Moshood

A pharmaceutical scientist and expert in diabetes care, Dr. Astrid Czock has said that prompt referral of diabetes patients, especially those with foot ulcers, to specialists for professional care is crucial to preventing lower limb amputations.

Speaking on Thursday at a Webinar themed ‘Supporting self-care: Footcare in diabetes management,’ Dr. Czock who works for the Swiss Society of Endocrinology and Diabetology, noted that timely referral of diabetes patients from the Primary Healthcare level can significantly help reduce the risk of limb amputation which is a major complication of diabetes.

According to the World Health Organisation, diabetic foot syndrome is “an ulceration of the foot (distally from the ankle) associated with neuropathy and different grades of ischemia and infection”.

Czock said, “The most important guidance for proper diabetes management is that of timely referral. The later a patient is referred, the lower his chances of healing and the higher the chance of limb amputation as of last resort.

“So the sooner a foot ulcer can be taken care of professionally, the shorter the time of healing.”

According to Dr. Czock, diabetes is responsible for up to 70 per cent of all non-traumatic amputations of the lower extremities, adding that a limb is lost due to diabetes every 20 seconds somewhere in the world.

She also stated that the main factors for diabetic foot ulcers and lower limb amputations are neuropathy, foot deformity and trauma.

Speaking further at the Webinar organised by the International Pharmaceutical Federation, Czock urged stakeholders in healthcare to begin to promote patient-centred inter-professional coordinated care for people with chronic and multiple non-communicable diseases like diabetes.

“All healthcare providers should begin to talk and work together to provide optimal care for patients.

“It is also necessary to encourage regular foot examinations and self-monitoring by diabetes patients.

“All persons with diabetes should be told to have their foot sensitivity test annually.

“They must also seek professional help if they notice changes in their limb skin colour, swelling, skin cracks, or pain,” she said.

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