Foot amputation or hospitalization resulting from foot ulcers in diabetes patients can be prevented or delayed with timely intervention by podiatrists. This is the findings from a recent research commissioned by the American Podiatric Medical Association. Researchers a retrospective study and 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. They 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 findings revealed 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.The authors believe care by podiatrists prior to the first evidence of foot ulcers in patients with diabetes prevents or delays lower extremity amputations and hospitalizations. The researchers concluded more use of podiatry services in the care of at risk groups like diabetics could result in substantial health care cost savings.
In Australia, all registered diabetics can access up to 5 free consultations per year with non medical specialists (including podiatrists) through the Enhanced Primary Care program .