Recently, I spoke at an Amputee Support Group meeting, where I shared tips on How to Be Your Own Best Advocate. I have given this talk several times, and each time the audience expresses surprise that they have such an essential role in their health and healthcare.

The talks are interactive, and I love to hear the stories that people share. Many times the stories are sad. As a nurse, case manager, and nurse advocate, I feel disappointed because it shows how lost people are when they find themselves in the complex healthcare system.

At this meeting, there were four men and one woman. As we talked, I learned they were all lower leg amputees from diabetes. All were middle-aged and seemed to be educated and reasonable people. Most in the group had one of their legs amputated, but there was one man who had had both of his legs amputated.

As I left the group after the presentation, I wondered what went wrong in their treatment that caused them all to have amputations. Today we know so much about the treatment and management of those with diabetes. How did these people fall through the cracks?

One article I read showed that each year, approximately 200,000 non-traumatic amputations occur. African Americans are four times more likely to experience diabetes-related amputation than whites. In the United States, every 17 seconds, someone is diagnosed with diabetes, and every day, 230 Americans with Diabetes will suffer an amputation. Throughout the world, it is estimated that every 30 seconds a leg is amputated. And 85% of these amputations were the result of a diabetic foot ulcer.

These numbers are staggering, and if we are honest with ourselves, point to a failure in the care coordination. We can and have to do better. We have to do better patient education. We have to break down barriers that put roadblocks up for patients due to access to safe, quality care. We have to learn how to better coordinate care for everyone as the stakes are so high not to.

If you know someone with diabetes or who is at risk for diabetes due to obesity or hypertension, encourage them to:

  1. Find a doctor they like and can establish a relationship. Doing so will help them to visit the doctor for thier check up and reach out when issues arise.
  2. We have to teach people to be proactive to recognize problems and get treatment to avoid setbacks in order to limit the complications that can occur.
  3. Empower patients to follow a reliable treatment that is tailored to meet their individual needs.
  4. Encourage each patient to learn as much as they can about their diabetes.
  5. Recommend a course taught b a Diabetic Nurse Educator.
  6. A course will help the patient be aware of how to manage their condition, recognize complications, and the importance of reporting problems as soon as possible.
  7. Help them know the goals they need to meet to allow them to be healthy.
  8. Help them learn how to keep their blood sugars under control, the importance of getting annual eye checks and doing daily inspections of their feet

People can learn to live with diabetes, but they need help and close monitoring. They need to pay close attention and listen to their bodies. Living with a chronic condition is not easy, but with a competent healthcare team and is dedicated to self-management, you can do well and avoid complications.

Nurses, case managers, care managers, Patient/Health Advocates, Social Workers, and all members of the healthcare team are at the center of changing the status quo.

If you want to learn more about how to improve quality, safety, and care coordination for those at risk, join me at the 11th Care Coordination Summit that will take place in a few weeks.

The Summit will share best practices and strategies you can take back to your organization to improve the care you provide to patients at risk. Together we can help our patient improve their health and healthcare. Click here to review the agenda and register for the Care Coordination Summit that will take place October 15-16th in Orlando, FL. Don’t delay so you can take advantage of the early bird discount that is available till October 17th.

Have a good week.

 

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