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Background: We sought to evaluate clinicians’ compliance with national guidelines for tetanus vaccination prophylaxis in patients with high-risk feet.
Methods: We retrospectively evaluated 114 consecutive patients between June 1, 2011, and March 31, 2019, who presented to the emergency department with a foot infection resulting from a puncture injury. Eighty-three patients had diabetes mellitus and 31 patients did not have diabetes mellitus. Electronic medical records were used to collect a broad range of study data on patient demographics, medical history, tetanus immunization history and tetanus status on presentation to the emergency department, peripheral arterial disease, sensory neuropathy, laboratory values, and clinical/surgical outcomes.
Results: Of the 114 patients who presented to the emergency department with a puncture wound, 53 (46.5%) did not have up-to-date tetanus immunization. Of those patients, 79.2% received a tetanus-containing vaccine booster, 3.8% received intramuscular tetanus immunoglobulin, 3.8% received both a tetanus-containing vaccine booster and tetanus immunoglobulins, and 20.8% received no form of tetanus prophylaxis. Comparing data between patients with and without diabetes mellitus, there were no statistically significant differences in tetanus prophylaxis.
Conclusions: Guidelines for tetanus prophylaxis among high-risk podiatric medical patients in this study center are not followed in all patients. Patients with diabetes mellitus are at high risk for exposure to tetanus; therefore, we recommend that physicians take a detailed tetanus immunization history and vaccinate patients if the tetanus history is unclear.