The chaos of the COVID pandemic has brought about a level of uncertainty and unease regarding patient’s decisions to visit their primary care doctors, speciality care physicians or local hospital emergency departments. Many patients, especially older ones with pre existing conditions, have decided to refrain from going to the doctor or hospital in fear of coming down with COVID. However this avoidance of preventative care and emergent visits has had deleterious effects on patient health especially pertaining to diabetic patients with foot ulcerations which has led to an increase in amputations and infections.
Recent publications in the Annals of Vascular Surgery have demonstrated that there has been a doubling of amputations in patients following vascular surgery since the arrival of the COVID pandemic in 2020 in comparison to data from 2018 and 2019. An additional study in Diabetes Care revealed a three fold increase in amputations from patients admitted to a tertiary care center in 2020 in comparison to patients admitted to the center from 2019. The COVID pandemic has led to an interruption in the consistent and regular care many patients were receiving for their chronic conditions. The literature has shown that there is up to an 80% mortality rate 5 years after a major lower extremity amputation caused by a diabetic ulceration or infection. This lapse in care in combination with avoidance of the emergency room for critical health problems has largely contributed to this increased in diabetic foot amputations.
Although COVID has caused alarm across the country, it is still very important for patients to regularly follow up with their physicians. Systemic illnesses such as diabetes require consistent monitoring and patients with wounds need regular debridements in office to allow them to heal as soon as possible and prevent amputations. Weekly wound care is recommended to remove diseased tissue, create offloading modalities for patients, and apply topical wound care products and grafts to allow for timely closure of wound sites. Protocols have been put in place at medical offices and hospitals which have resulted in more frequent cleanings, mask wearing, and social distancing in waiting rooms to reduce the risks of COVID transmission. Services such as telemedicine allow patients to interact with their physicians without having to leave their homes. In order to achieve the best clinical outcomes, it is imperative that patients regularly follow up with their physicians who will help manage chronic conditions and avoid diabetic foot amputations.
Dr. Thometz sees patients out of our Crystal Lake, Elgin, Lake in The Hills & Cary clinics.
For more information or to book an appointment call 847.639.5800