The purpose of this study was to estimate healthcare costs associated with diabetes-related lower-limb amputations (LLAs) within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). We performed a cross-sectional comparative analysis of 3,381 VHA clinic users in fiscal year (FY) 2004 and 3,403 clinic users in FY2010 identified as having type 2 diabetes mellitus and nontraumatic LLA. LLA expenditures related to inpatient medical, inpatient surgical, and outpatient care were estimated using VHA Health Economics Resource Center average cost files. LLA-related pharmaceutical costs were obtained from VHA Decision Support System national extract files. From the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) perspective, the mean cost associated with care for diabetes-related LLA per patient in the VA healthcare system in FY2004 was $50,351 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 48,939-51,803) in U.S. dollars; the total cost for all 3,381 patients was $170,236,037. In FY2010, cost per patient rose to $60,647 (95% CI = 59,143-62,188), with a total cost of $206,380,331 for 3,403 patients. In the VHA healthcare system, the economic burden associated with LLAs in patients with diabetes exceeded $200,000,000 in FY2010. This suggests that further improvements in care of patients with diabetes could be associated with significant cost savings.
Keywords: LLA expenditures; VA; VHA; Veterans Health Administration; amputations; cost; diabetes; health services; lower-limb amputations; veteran.