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Silent toll of diabetes exposed

07 June, 2011

The devastating effect diabetes has on the lives, limbs and hip pockets of many Australians has now been fully exposed for the first time.

The Australasian Podiatry Council (APodC) has created the diabetic foot disease toll calculator, which shows the effect of diabetes on foot health in terms of hospital bed days, lower extremity amputations, deaths and costs in real time.

The left hand side of the calculator shows the consequences if the current system of diabetic foot health management in Australia is maintained.

The right hand side shows how the effects can be reduced with optimal foot health care.

APodC President, Andrew Schox says the calculator is a sobering reminder of the reality facing many Australians.

"The fact is that improper foot health care is forcing many Australians with diabetes into our hospitals, where they may have a lower limb amputation or even die." Schox said.

"It's a ludicrous situation when you realise that four out of five of these amputations may have been avoided if the patient had been given optimal foot health management",  Schox continued.

"At the moment patients with diabetes are only entitled to a maximum of 5 Medicare funded appointments with a podiatrist every year. In fact, many patients need around 12 appointments to reduce their leg wounds to avoid hospitalisation".

"The recent Federal Budget was billed as a cost-cutting budget, and yet it contained nothing about boosting the number of Medicare-funded podiatry visits for patients with diabetes."

"It would have been an excellent way to save money in the federal health budget. The research and this calculator show us that by spending more money on podiatry and foot care we can actually save the Australian taxpayer over $300 million each year. For example, a dozen Medicare-funded podiatry appointments for patients with diabetes costs a few hundred dollars, while lower limb amputations can cost the health system anywhere up to $100,000 per patient".

"It really is just simple maths - and in reality, the calculator shows not only the number of largely avoidable hospital admissions, but also the millions of tax-payer dollars that could have been saved." Schox concluded.

To view the calculator, please go to this link: www.apodc.com.au

Source: AAP Media Release: Australasian Podiatry Council (APodC)

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