Amputee Coalition issues new standards for limb loss prevention

The Limb Loss Task Force, which was convened by the Amputee Coalition, has released a white paper setting new standards for limb loss prevention and care, according to a news release.

“We are proud to present ‘Roadmap for Preventing Limb Loss in America,’” Kendra Calhoun, president and chief executive officer of the Amputee Coalition, stated in the release. “We believe this report will be critical for setting policy, changing practices and implementing prevention strategies.”

In its report, the task force made two major recommendations: partner with organizations to develop demonstration projects that seek to reduce the number of preventable amputations in the United States and develop a media campaign to raise awareness about preventing amputations due to diabetes-related complications and vascular disease.

 “While not all limb loss is preventable, the leading causes of amputation — complications from diabetes and peripheral artery disease — can often be prevented through patient education, disease management and regular foot screenings,” Terrence P. Sheehan, MD, medical director for the Amputee Coalition, stated in the release.

Sheehan added that minority populations, such as African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans and American Indians, have an amputation rate approximately four times higher than white Americans.

“It is essential that we reach out to these racial and ethnic groups that experience a higher incidence of diabetes and peripheral artery disease,” Sheehan said. “Statistics show that 60% of the amputations resulting from diabetes-related complications could have been prevented and that roughly 85% of diabetes-related amputations are preceded by a foot ulcer. Clearly, early interventions and increased patient education could help reduce those numbers.”

Sheehan also noted that preventing amputations could significantly reduce the health care costs associated with amputations and limb care, which currently total more than $9 billion annually.

The task force, which met in Washington, DC from Feb. 9-12, comprised experts on amputee care and rehabilitation, limb loss prevention, vascular medicine, diabetes education and management, health care policy and health system administration. Support for the task force was provided by funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The Institute for Preventative Foot Health.

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