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In Poland, diabetic fingers and feet are amputated en masse, and this could have been avoided

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7,000 patients a year are doomed to amputation due to diabetes. Diabetic foot is a chronic complication of the disease, but it can be treated. Why is it not profitable in Poland?

Krystian Lachowicz is 37 years old and his left leg is missing below the knee due to diabetes. – It hurt all the time, festered. The worst was the pain, because it was constant pain all the time, I was on painkillers all day. This was the biggest problem – says Krystian Lachowicz. Doctors couldn’t heal his leg for three years, so they cut it off two years ago. Every year, because of diabetes, doctors amputate the feet of seven thousand Poles. This is a dramatic number and one of the highest in Europe. – I think we are in the second or third place from the end when it comes to the number of amputations – argues Professor Krzysztof Strojek, national consultant in the field of diabetes.

There is also no prevention. Mr. Jan Czopar, when he fell ill with diabetes, wanted to find out in the clinic how not to get diabetic foot. “There was no one to consult, or I was ignored. The so-called state medical service simply recognized me as some kind of eccentric who wants to know what to do not to be sick – says Mr. Jan. Doctors wanted to cut off Jacek Tętnowski’s foot, but he did not allow it, because he is a doctor himself. – This absolutely does not solve the problem, does not cure this patient. The diabetic foot syndrome affects both feet and the patient with the prosthesis still has a problem with the other foot – explains Dr. Jacek Tętnowski.

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An appeal to the ministry

This second foot also has to be amputated over time. In fact, the annual number of diabetic patients maimed is even greater than the aforementioned seven thousand. – In Poland, we have over 7,000 so-called large amputations, i.e. above the ankle, and many more small ones, also in total it is even about 15,000 amputations per year – enumerates Anna Śliwińska from the Polish Diabetes Association. Minor amputations are when doctors cut off a patient’s toes.

Diabetes causes changes in the vessels and blood stops flowing to the foot. This destroys the nerves and the patient loses sensation. Wounds on such a foot are painful and take a long time to heal. It sounds bad and looks even worse. However, such changes can be treated. However, few people care about this, because for years it has been more profitable for hospitals to cut off their legs. – Unfortunately, when it comes to the valuation of benefits, amputation is priced better than stationary or outpatient care, wound or ulceration in patients with diabetic foot syndrome – adds Professor Krzysztof Strojek.

Most of these 7,000 patients per year could have saved their feet if the right treatment had been taken. Just like in other civilized countries. – In letters and in conversations with the Ministry of Health, I appealed for this problem to finally be solved in such a way that it would benefit patients and reduce the number of amputations – says Professor Strojek. Without much result. Under the influence of reminders, the ministry plans to launch a pilot program for good treatment of the diabetic foot. In one center. About three million people suffer from diabetes in Poland.

Main photo source: Marek Nowicki/Fakty TVN

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