In diabetes, foot ulcers are such a common complication that they account for almost 1% of the total NHS budget and can lead to amputations and premature death. While they can be prevented, it is difficult to identify the people most at risk: UK guidance currently recommends using 8 to 10 tests to look for signs of nerve damage or infection, and assess the risk of an ulcer.
In this study, researchers tested a tool based on only three pieces of information: insensitivity, a pulse in the foot, and previous ulcers or amputation. This information – routinely collected from people with diabetes – was found by the research team as being able to correctly identify people who would develop ulcers, and people who would not, 83% of the time.
The tool needs to be tested further in specialist hospital settings and needs to be tested alongside preventative measures to see how much they improve outcomes for people with diabetes. However, it does not depend on IT systems, can be used by a range of professionals, can be printed out or made available electronically, is easy to remember and could help ensure that preventive treatments are offered to those most at risk.
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