These are unprecedented times—where a global pandemic sweeps healthcare facilities off of their footing, and disrupts all aspects of local clinical practice. Most doctors and healthcare professionals are urging mildly sick patients to stay home, and for routine patients to consult telehealth practices versus in-clinic appointments.Yet, for those with diabetic foot conditions, it’s imperative that clinicians do everything they can to keep their patients from being hospitalized and instead, safe at home.
Podiatric Visits Associated With Fewer Complications
Patients with diabetes are at an increased risk for complications due to their condition, putting them at high risk for hospitalizations, amputations, and death. Routine podiatry care is associated with fewer diabetes-related amputations, ER visits, hospitalizations, and length-of-stay. As a podiatrist, it’s our job to ensure that our patients are monitored through telemedicine, in-home visits, and higher acuity office visits so that we can reduce the spread of COVID-19, and keep our patients safe at home.
The Dangers of Restricted Healthcare
Governments have taken the necessary actions to flatten the curve and reduce the spread of COVID-19, but in the process of social distancing, have put high-risk patients at risk for something else—limited access to healthcare. In fact, as of late, the government and regulators have advised that all non-essential healthcare be postponed until after a vaccination has been put into place; approximately 12–18 months from now.
Though these precautions are helpful in regard to flattening the curve and limiting the spread of the coronavirus, a lot of diabetic foot patients are being left without necessary podiatric services; including limited access to wound centers, surgeries, and regular diabetic foot care from podiatrists. These “non-essential” procedures severely affect diabetic foot patients and increase the risk of infections, amputations, and deaths.
In addition, patients with diabetes are at a heightened risk for mortality due to COVID-19.
Diabetic Foot Care During COVID-19: Ways to Mitigate the Spread and Protect Patients
For the at-risk diabetic, we recommend the following strategies to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and protect those with diabetes from worsening conditions and hospitalizations.
Telemedicine and E-Visits
We strongly discourage all hospitals and healthcare facilities to list podiatric procedures as “non-essential” as podiatry covers a large range of urgent healthcare needs such as traumas, serious foot infections, and gangrene.
In order to serve our patients best in this time of uncertainty, the CDC has recommended that all healthcare facilities offer telehealthcare whenever possible. Using Google Glass and FaceTime are excellent resources to be able to thoroughly assess wound healing and wound management, as well as screen for infection.
Virtual check-ins are a great way for podiatrists to speak with established patients for a short duration to check for any changes or to answer any questions a patient might have. It’s also a great way for patients to send in photos for evaluation.
The use of telemedicine is expected to dramatically increase as more information comes out from the CDC about social distancing procedures. As telemedicine increases, podiatrists use it in conjunction with in-home visits for dressing changes, and/or to prescribe antibiotics for patients to use at home.
Diabetic Foot Care In the Time of COVID-19
For patients with diabetic foot conditions, it’s essential that your care is taken seriously. Our foot specialists are on stand-by, ready to assess any needs or concerns you may have.
Contact Foot Specialists today to set up an appointment.