Hospital separations indicate increasing need for prevention of diabetic foot complications in central Australia
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Publication: The Australian Journal of Rural Health
Start Page: 275
The aim of this study was to guide service provision for prevention of diabetic foot complications through the analysis of hospital separation data for those with diabetes in central Australia. We reviewed the hospital separation data for central Australia from 1992 to 1997 for adults known to be diabetic and those with diabetic foot complications. Foot complications were identified from International Classification of Diseases-9th Revision (ICD-9) codes. Additionally, we assessed the proportion of cases with diabetic foot, identified by ICD-9 coding and confirmed by record review, that were identified by Australian National-Diagnostic Related Group-Version 3 (AN-DRG-3) coding. Separations with diabetes doubled from 352 in 1992 to 796 in 1997. This represents an increase from 1232 to 2521 separations per 100,000 people over 15 years of age. Separations with foot complications increased threefold from 28 in 1992 to 90 in 1997, a rate increase from 98 to 285 per 100,000 people over 15 years of age. The proportion of diabetes separations that had foot complications remained around 10% during the 6 year period. Aboriginal people made up 89% of the individuals with foot complications and 91% of separations for diabetic foot. Foot complications were predominantly of the more acute type (90%), amenable to early intervention. The AN-DRG-3 code for diabetic foot identified only 59% (37/63 in 1997) of the separations identified by the ICD-9 codes, and admitted primarily for foot complications in Alice Springs Hospital. The known burden of hospital care for diabetes and diabetic foot complications has increased markedly in recent years. A combination of changes in prevalence, primary care utilisation, detection, hospital access or re-admission rates may underlie the observed increases. As it is very unlikely that diabetes or diabetic foot complications are being over diagnosed, or that the hospitals are over utilised, this analysis shows there is an increasingly apparent need for improved prevention of diabetic foot complications. Therefore primary health care systems should ensure that they implement evidence-based care for preventing foot complications among people with diabetes.