Background: With growing global prevalence of diabetes mellitus, diabetes-related foot disease (DFD) is contributing significantly to disease burden. As more healthcare resources are being dedicated to the management of DFD, service design and delivery is being scrutinised. Through a national survey, this study aimed to investigate the current characteristics of services which treat patients with DFD in Australia.
Methods: An online survey was distributed to all 195 Australian members of the Australian and New Zealand Society for Vascular Surgery investigating aspects of DFD management in each member's institution.
Results: From the survey, 52 responses were received (26.7%). A multidisciplinary diabetes foot unit (MDFU) was available in more than half of respondent's institutions, most of which were tertiary hospitals. The common components of MDFU were identified as podiatrists, endocrinologists, vascular surgeons and infectious disease physicians. Many respondents identified vascular surgery as being the primary admitting specialty for DFD patients that require hospitalisation (33/52, 63.5%). This finding was consistent even in centres with MDFU clinics. Less than one third of MDFUs had independent admission rights.
Conclusions: The present study suggests that many tertiary centres in Australia provide their diabetic foot service in a multidisciplinary environment however their composition and function remain heterogeneous. These findings provide an opportunity to evaluate current practice and, to initiate strategies aimed to improve outcomes of patients with DFD.
Keywords: Diabetic foot; Multidisciplinary; Survey.