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LEEDerGroup .com: 2015-08 The Cost of Dibaetic Foot Ulcers DFUs





The Cost of Diabetic Foot Ulcers

By Phil Stevens, MEd, CPO, FAAOP
Content provided by The O&P EDGE

  • The annual cost of diabetes is tremendously expensive; according to the American Diabetes Association, it was $245 billion in 2012.1 While nearly $70 billion of this figure was associated with reduced workforce productivity, the remaining $176 billion occurred as excess healthcare expenditures.1 These costs can, in turn, be divided into those associated with treatment of the disease itself, those associated with chronic complications of diabetes, and those native to O&P professional interests: foot ulcers.1 KYDEX PRO Multi Podus
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  • Foot ulcers are common among the 22.3 million Americans with diabetes, annually affecting as many as 6 percent of this population and eventually affecting as many as 25 percent of these individuals during their lifetimes.2 Treatments are variable, ranging from the conventional techniques of debridement and offloading to the more elaborate approaches of hyperbaric oxygen therapy and bioengineered skin substitutes. Concurrent with the often extended healing times associated with such ulcerations, there is an increased risk for infections and other comorbid sequelae. As a result, foot ulcers are a major cause of hospitalizations and additional healthcare expenditures in this population and have been linked with a three-year cumulative mortality rate of 28 percent.2 This article considers recently published data related to the cumulative costs associated with the medical management of diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs).

LEEDer Note: this is an abbreviated page of the full article which may be found here: http://www.oandp.com/articles/2015-08_02.asp
  • Foot ulcers represent a substantial cost burden among Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes, with Rice et al. suggesting a one-year cost of just over $9 billion. Understanding the true cost of a foot ulcer is a challenging enterprise as those individuals at the greatest risk for ulceration are generally sicker individuals with greater healthcare utilization costs prior to the development of the ulcer itself. Once these individuals are identified, it is important to note that the direct costs associated with the treatment of the ulcer ultimately represented less than half of the additional healthcare expenditures experienced by these individuals. Additional utilization of hospitals, emergency rooms, home health services, and outpatient physicians’ visits appears to further contribute to increased healthcare costs. Additionally, both the direct and indirect costs associated with foot ulceration appear to extend beyond the first year, which increases the cumulative healthcare burden. Given the extreme costs associated with treating this condition, screening and prevention are more justifiably pursued, both for patients’ well-being and the containment of their associated medical bills.
  • Phil Stevens, MEd, CPO, FAAOP, is in clinical practice with Hanger Clinic, Salt Lake City. He can be reached at philmstevens@hotmail.com.