Medical malpractice can be an issue for a diabetic who has required a limb amputation in the following circumstances, among others:
- Poor control of the blood sugar level in the diabetic, due to lack of proper followup by the general practice doctor (internist or family practitioner) who is treating the patient. Patients need to be taught daily monitoring of sugar levels and how to make frequent adjustments of insulin to maintain good control.
- Poor attention to a foot injury until tissue is so damaged it becomes gangrenous and must be amputated.
- Failure to diagnose a patient as needing an artery graft to keep a healthy blood supply to the foot.
Poorly controlled diabetes is the leading cause of nontraumatic foot and leg amputation in the United States. There are around 82,000 lower-limb amputations every year. Foot problems most often happen when high blood sugar causes nerve damage, also called neuropathy, which results in loss of feeling in the feet. That can leave a patient unable to feel pain, heat, and cold – and not even aware of a foot injury until the skin breaks down and causes a serious foot ulcer. Without proper treatment, this damaged foot may eventually have to be amputated. Diabetics need regular visits with foot surgeons and/or podiatrists to keep their feet healthy.
Here is a standards document for Prevention and treatment of diabetic foot disease.
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