Delayed referral of patients with diabetic foot ulcers across Europe : Patterns between primary care and specialised units
Objective: Diabetic foot ulceration (DFU) has the potential to deteriorate rapidly without prompt assessment and treatment. The aim of this study was to assess the referral patterns for DFU, from primary care to specialised diabetes foot care units. Method: A two-part, quantitative, online questionnaire was administered to GPs across four countries in Europe: France, the UK, Germany and Spain. The first part entailed a survey of GPs' perceptions of referrals for DFU. The second part of the questionnaire collected data on recently managed DFU cases. Results: There were 600 questionnaires collected in the first part of the study (150 per country), and 1188 patient cases of DFU management were included in the second part. Up to 95% of patients had type 2 diabetes. Patients' complaints led to diagnosis, on average, 60% of the time, and the diagnosis was an incidental finding during a consultation 1328% of the time. On average, only 40% of GPs completely agreed that they have clearly identified DFU clinical practitioners working in a hospital facility. In 5566% of cases, the duration of DFU was unknown or DFU diagnosis was delayed more than three weeks from the onset of the wound. On average, 48% of patients were referred after an unknown duration or more than one month from the onset of DFU. Conclusion: Despite differences in health-care structures across Europe, delays in referral to specialist foot care teams seems to be a common theme. There is an ongoing need to educate GPs, nurses and patients to be more aware of the risk of DFU, and the need for prompt referral to specialist diabetic foot teams.
- Endocrinology and Diabetes
- diabetic foot
- primary care
- ISSN: 0969-0700