Limb Loss Summit Addresses Using VA System to Reduce Amputations

Health care leaders from across the country met in Potomac, Md. at the Amputee Coalition Limb Loss Summit from February 9-11 to discuss how elements from the Veterans Affairs System of Care Preservation Amputation Care and Treatment program could be incorporated into the private sector healthcare system to prevent limb loss.

The PACT initiative was established in 1992 and has resulted in a significant reduction in the rate of foot ulcers from diabetes and peripheral vascular disease, which are the leading causes for amputations. The VA Medical Center in Nashville reported a 40% decrease in the number of lower limb amputations over the last 5 years. Pharmaceutical costs have decreased 48%, while laboratory studies decreased 32% and inpatient bed days decreased 44%, according to a press release.

“We agree that the VA system offers much promise if translated to the private sector healthcare system,” said Terrence Sheehan, MD, Amputee Coalition medical director and chief medical officer at Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital in Rockville, Md. “The next step is to create a demonstration project to test these limb-saving and cost-saving measures. If we can save one person from having an amputation, which is a savings of $500,000, imagine the savings to our health care system if we could achieve the approximately 50% reduction that the VA has realized,” Sheehan stated in the release.

Summit participants determined that a demonstration project in a civilian hospital should be conducted using the VA system of care. Task force members will continue to work to collaborate on funding, resources and research.

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