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Diabetes-Related Foot Care at 10 Veterans Affairs Medical Centers: Must Do's Associated with Successful Microsystems

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Background: Well-coordinated interdisciplinary preventive foot care has been reported to significantly reduce diabetes-related foot ulcers, amputations, and hospitalization. However, the contribution of the specific components leading to these "successes" is not fully characterized. The microsystem conceptual framework was adapted to foot care to determine which of the microsystem success characteristics were associated with decreased major lower-limb amputation rates at 10 Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers.

Methods: Two-day site visits were conducted using standardized interviews at the 10 VA medical centers.

Results: Six "must do's" for foot care in microsystems were correlated at ≥(−.30) with amputation rates: (1) addressing all foot care needs, (2) appropriate referrals, (3) ease in recruiting staff, (4) confidence in staff, (5) available stand alone specialized diabetic foot care services, and (6) providers attending diabetic foot care education in the past three years. Using multiple linear regression, the sum of these items described 59% of the variance (p = 0.006).

Discussion: Clinicians and managers may want to include the must-do's in system modifications to improve foot care for people with diabetes. Many of the sites displayed exemplary features in foot care, such as providing a formal orientation to the foot care clinics.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-04-01

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  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    David W. Baker, MD, MPH, FACP, executive vice president for the Division of Healthcare Quality Evaluation at The Joint Commission, is the inaugural editor-in-chief of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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