Efforts to prevent, care for diabetic foot ulcers cut amputation rate in half, study finds

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Better ulcer care contributed to a nearly 50% decrease in diabetes-related leg amputations between 2000-2010, according to a study in the current issue of Foot & Ankle International.

University of Iowa researchers analyzed Medicare Part B claims for amputations and diabetic foot ulcer treatments. In the 10 years studied, the rate of upper and lower leg amputations decreased 47%, they discovered.

Orthopedic treatments for foot ulcers increased more than 140%, and care teams are also doing a better job of preventing ulcers from developing in the first place, according to senior author Phinit Phisitkul, M.D. 

Recently introduced legislation could further contribute to this progress. The “Helping Ensure Life- and Limb-Saving Access to Podiatric Physicians Act” was introduced in the U.S. Senate last week, after being introduced in the House of Representatives in the spring. 

Under the bill, podiatrists would be recognized as physicians by Medicaid. The legislation also would help providers better coordinate care under the Medicare Therapeutic Shoe program.

The HELLPP Act was introduced in the House by Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) and in the Senate by Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Charles Grassley (R-IA).