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80% of diabetes related amputations found to be preventable

Thousands of diabetes related amputations could be prevented, if treatment was carried out sooner, a new study has revealed.

Diabetes UK have found that 6,000 diabetes related amputations take place every year, of which 80% are preventable. More than 100 people in Britain every week have a toe, foot or leg amputated as a result of diabetes.

The charity has blamed this on a lack of adequate medical treatment being provided by GP’s and hospitals. It is believed that healthcare staff fail to consider simple guidelines, such as those imposed by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).  These state that all patients with diabetes should undergo a foot examination on admission to hospital.

Another study, carried out by University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust found that less than half of patients with diabetes had blood supply to their feet assessed on admission to hospital, and that little more than a quarter of patients were assessed for nerve damage.

Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK refers to this as being a ‘national disgrace’.  She also says ‘many of those suffering with diabetes are not even aware that amputation is a potential complication, we need to make sure they understand what healthcare they should be getting. Decent healthcare is something everyone should get as a matter of course’.

It is also thought that the rates of unnecessary amputations vary from one health authority to another, as the studies expose delays in the referral process between doctors and specialists in certain parts of the country more than others.  This is significant in view of early referrals having a marked impact on reducing amputation rates.  Foot ulcers, particularly have been shown to deteriorate in a matter of hours.

Fiona King, a former ballerina is now registered disabled after having undergone a diabetes related amputation of part of her foot.  She says ‘It is important there is a huge increase in awareness around the terrifying speed in which foot problems in people with diabetes can develop’.

The number of patients at risk of undergoing unnecessary amputations is expected to rise in future, as the rates of people being diagnosed with diabetes has been predicted to increase.  Currently 2.9 million people suffer from diabetes, which is expected to rise to around five million by 2025.  Type 1 diabetes can also affect anyone as it has no known cause, and is not linked to poor diet or lifestyle.

If you think you may have undergone a diabetes related amputation, which could have been prevented; or have been affected by medical negligence generally Swain and Co have Specialist Clinical Negligence teams who can be contacted on 02392 483322 (Havant/Portsmouth) or 02380 631111 (Southampton).


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