CRC Research Finds Massive Diabetic Foot Disease Costs

New research from the Wound CRC shows preventable hospitalisation from diabetic foot disease is costing Australia hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

Peter Lazzarini, Senior Research Fellow with CRC Participants Queensland University of Technology and Queensland Health, said the importance of early prevention of diabetic foot disease was never more important than in this year’s National Diabetes Week (10-16 July). The research has been broadcast widely through Channel 9 News and other national media as the focus of Diabetes Week 2016 is diabetes related amputations.

Mr Lazzarini, also the Co-Chair of the Wound CRC translation project Diabetic Foot Australia, led the Australian-first study, published in BMJ Open, finding one in every 22 patients in our hospitals have active diabetic foot disease.

“Our study, which investigated a representative sample of hospitalised patients in five hospitals across metropolitan and regional Queensland, found 4.6% of all patients had active diabetic foot disease and nearly half of those were in hospital because of their diabetic foot disease.

This equates to 27,600 hospitalisations each year caused by diabetic foot disease in Australia, which puts diabetic foot disease easily in the top 20 causes of hospitalisation in Australia.”

He said this amounted to an annual direct cost to Australia for hospitalisation alone of $350 million.

“This figure is much higher than we previously thought and is still very much a conservative estimate, because this cost only relates to patients admitted because of their diabetic foot disease in public hospitals,” he said.

Mr Lazzarini said diabetic foot disease didn’t stop with hospitalisation and that it also causes 4,400 amputations and nearly 1,700 deaths in Australia each year.

“If diabetic foot disease is left untreated it can quite easily result in hospitalisation, amputation and even death.

Unfortunately, we also found that people hospitalised because of diabetic foot disease had rarely received the recommended multi-disciplinary foot care needed to properly treat their disease in the year prior to their hospitalisation.

This seems to confirm our thoughts that people with diabetic foot disease that do not see a multi-disciplinary foot disease team are more likely to end up in hospital.”

However, Mr Lazzarini offers a message of hope: early prevention.

“We know from our previous research in Australia that when people with diabetic foot disease receive multi-disciplinary foot care, we can prevent around half of the hospitalisations, amputations and costs.

Simple preventative measures can save our hospital system tens of millions of dollars each year, but most importantly, change the lives of thousands of Australians with diabetes by empowering them to keep both their feet firmly on the ground and out of hospital.”

The Wound CRC, along with Lazzarini and a team of national experts, have formed Diabetic Foot Australia (DFA), a key research translation legacy of the Wound CRC.

DFA has been established as a sustainable business unit that is the national peak body for diabetic foot disease. DFA advocates a coordinated approach by health professionals, researchers, government & industry to deliver the best possible patient outcomes.

DFA’s key activities include:  key opinion leader and education events, a clinical trials network and supporting the implementation of the nation’s first diabetic foot minimum dataset. DFA is driving the delivery of best practice care for patients across the nation.

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For more information, please contact:
Shelley Morris
Branding & Communications Coordinator
Wound Management Innovation CRC
+ 61 7 3088 6661
[email protected]