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Need For Leg Amputee Care Improvements Highlighted

Improvements May Be Needed To The Care Of Amputee Patients


Under half of all patients who have to have a leg amputated in England and Wales receive a good standard of care, newly-released data has revealed.

The Press Association reports that this is according to information from the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD), which questioned 519 amputees about whether or not they believed the care they had following their operation was of adequate quality.

However, just 44 per cent said it was of a good standard, with nearly nine out of ten respondents not having a named individual assigned to them to coordinate their discharge and rehabilitation.

In addition, almost one-quarter should have had elective surgery planned in advance of their amputation, with more than one in ten having been initially referred for care via diabetes services.

Poor management of diabetes can lead to limbs needing to be amputated, meaning health professionals may need to improve the way they monitor and advise patients on the condition to prevent amputations being needed.

Overall, figures show that more than 5,000 people in the UK undergo a life-changing amputation each year, indicating that hundreds and maybe even thousands are not 100 per cent happy with the standard of care they receive.

Lead author of the report and consultant vascular surgeon Professor Michael Gough commented: "Having a limb removed is a life-changing experience and patients need to be supported by a wide range of health professionals other than just the surgeon.

"Good multidisciplinary care from the outset is required to ensure that these patients, who often have multiple medical problems, receive the best possible treatment."

NCEPOD chairman Bertie Leigh added: "In a nutshell, it seems we are not doing well enough."

Professor Gough also highlighted that the mortality rate for amputations in the UK is significantly higher than that for similar patients in the US, at 12.4 per cent compared to 9.6 per cent.

The findings of the investigation have been compiled into a report entitled 'Lower Limb Amputation: Working Together'.

Expert Opinion
The latest data published relating to the standard of care received by patients undergoing an amputation procedure is troubling. Patient care should always be a top priority, particularly for those undergoing such a serious operation, which will impact the way they live their lives. It is crucial that a thorough investigation is carried out into the standard of care received by these patients and measures are implemented to improve the standard of care across the board.

“Patients should be able to rely on a network of support, not only from their surgeon, but other medical professionals before and after their surgery. It is vital medical services work together to improve the quality of care offered to those undergoing this type of surgical procedure.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner

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