Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), formerly ubiquitous and disposable in the hospital and healthcare environment, has become scarce during the COVID-19 pandemic. This shortage has precipitated creative solutions to re-use and/or extend the lifetime of PPE, most notably the N95 mask. This article attempts to summarize options regarding re-use of N95 respirators and is for informational purposes only.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted healthcare, with its far-reaching effects seeping into chronic disease evaluation and treatment. Our tertiary wound care center was specially designed to deliver the highest quality care to wounded patients. Pre-pandemic, we were able to ensure rapid treatment via validated protocols delivered by a co-localized multidisciplinary team within the hospital setting. The pandemic has disrupted our model's framework, and we have worked to adapt our workflow without sacrificing quality of care. Using the modified Donabedian model of quality assessment, we present an analysis of pre- and intra-pandemic characteristics of our center. In this way, we hope other providers can use this framework for identifying evolving problems within their practice so that quality care can continue to be delivered to all patients.
Background: Along with significant case transmission, hospitalizations, and mortality experienced during the global Sars-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic, there existed a disruption in the delivery of health care across multiple specialties. We studied the effect of the pandemic on inpatients with diabetic foot problems in a level-one trauma center in Central Ohio. Methods: A retrospective chart review of patients necessitating a consultation by the foot and ankle surgery service were reviewed from the first 8 months of 2020. A total of 270 patients met the inclusion criteria and divided into pre-pandemic (n = 120) and pandemic groups (n = 150). Demographics, medical history, severity of current infection, and medical or surgical management were collected and analyzed.Results: The odds of undergoing any level of amputation was 10.8 times higher during the pandemic versus before the pandemic. The risk of major amputations (below-the-knee or higher) likewise increased with an odds ratio of 12.5 among all patients in the foot and ankle service during the pandemic. Of the patients undergoing any amputation, the odds for receiving a major amputation was 3.1 times higher than before the pandemic. Additionally, the severity of infections increased during the pandemic and a larger proportion of the cases were classified as emergent in the pandemic group compared to the pre-pandemic group.Conclusions: The effect of the pandemic on the health-care system has had a deleterious effect on people with diabetes-related foot problems resulting in more severe infections, more emergencies, and necessitating more amputations. When an amputation was performed, the likelihood it was a major amputation also increased.Editor's Note: This Original Article accompanies "Diabetes-Related Amputations: A Pandemic within a Pandemic," by Lee C. Rogers, DPM, Robert J. Snyder, DPM, and Warren S. Joseph, DPM, FIDSA, available at https://doi.org/10.7547/20-248
As of 2016, Medicaid accounted for nearly 20% of state general fund budgets. Optional Medicaid services like podiatry are often subject to cost-cutting measures in periods of economic downturn, as was the case in the wake of the 2007 financial crisis. Although the cuts were intended as a cost-saving measure, research indicates they had the opposite effect. The restriction and limitation of these services during the Great Recession resulted in both poorer health outcomes for beneficiaries, and poorer financial outcomes for state Medicaid programs. With states citing record levels of unemployment as of April 2020 and projecting significant declines in annual revenue in 2021, the economic conditions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to rival those of the Great Recession. Given the historical precedent for restricting or eliminating optional Medicaid services as a cost-saving measure, it is likely that podiatric services will once again come under scrutiny. Previous efforts by state-level podiatric societies have proven successful in lobbying for the reinstatement of coverage under Medicaid by conveying evidence of the negative outcomes associated with elimination to stakeholders. The specialty must once again engage policymakers by drawing on evidence gleaned and lessons learned from past cuts of optional Medicaid services to avert counterproductive coverage restrictions intended to mitigate the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic is driving significant change in the healthcare system and disrupting the best practices for diabetic limb preservation, leaving large numbers of patients without care. Patients with diabetes and foot ulcers are at increased risk for infections, hospitalization, amputations, and death. Podiatric care is associated with fewer diabetes-related amputations, ER visits, hospitalizations, length-of-stay, and costs. But podiatrists must mobilize and adopt the new paradigm of shifts away from hospital care to community-based care. Implementing the proposed Pandemic Diabetic Foot Triage System, in-home visits, higher acuity office visits, telemedicine, and remote patient monitoring can help podiatrists manage patients while reducing the COVID-19 risk. The goal of podiatrists during the pandemic is to reduce the burden on the healthcare system by keeping diabetic foot and wound patients safe, functional, and at home.
This editorial accompanies "Diabetes-Related Major and Minor Amputation Risk Increased During the COVID-19 Pandemic," by Dominick J. Casciato, DPM, Sara Yancovitz, DPM, John Thompson, DPM, Steven Anderson, DPM, Alex Bischoff, DPM, Shauna Ayres, MPH, CHES, and Ian Barron, DPM, available at https://doi.org/10.7547/20-224
BACKGROUND: Diabetic Foot Osteomyelitis (DFO) is a common infection where treatment involves multiple services including Infectious Disease (ID), Podiatry, and Pathology. Despite its ubiquity in the hospital, consensus on much of its management is lacking. METHODS: Representatives from ID, Podiatry, and Pathology interested in quality improvement (QI) developed multidisciplinary institutional recommendations culminating in an educational intervention describing optimal diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to DFO. Knowledge acquisition was assessed by pre- and post-intervention surveys. Inpatients with forefoot DFO were retrospectively reviewed pre- and post- intervention to assess frequency of recommended diagnostic and therapeutic maneuvers, including appropriate definition of surgical bone margins, definitive histopathology reports, and unnecessary intravenous antibiotics or prolonged antibiotic courses. RESULTS: A post-intervention survey revealed significant improvements in knowledge of antibiotic treatment duration and the role of oral antibiotics in managing DFO. There were 104 consecutive patients in the pre-intervention cohort (4/1/2018-4/1/2019) and 32 patients in the post-intervention cohort (11/5/2019-03/01/2020), the latter truncated by changes in hospital practice during the COVID-19 pandemic. Non-categorizable or equivocal pathology reports decreased from pre-intervention to post-intervention (27.0% vs 3.3%, respectively, P=0.006). We observed non-significant improvement in correct bone margin definition (74.0% vs 87.5%, p=0.11), unnecessary PICC line placement (18.3% vs 9.4%, p=0.23), and unnecessary prolonged antibiotics (21.9% vs 5.0%, p=0.10). Additionally, by working as an interdisciplinary group, many solvable misunderstandings were identified, and processes were adjusted to improve the quality of care provided to these patients. CONCLUSIONS: This QI initiative regarding management of DFO led to improved provider knowledge and collaborative competency between these three departments, improvements in definitive pathology reports, and non-significant improvement in several other clinical endpoints. Creating collaborative competency may be an effective local strategy to improve knowledge of diabetic foot infection and may generalize to other common multidisciplinary conditions.
Toenail onychomycosis is a common condition that is equally challenging for podiatrists and patients. This case study documents a 26-year-old woman with bilateral total dystrophic onychomycosis of at least 5 years’ duration. She had previously failed to respond to treatment with ciclopirox nail lacquer 8% and, despite hiding her condition with nail polish, was suffering from embarrassment, distress, and low self-esteem. At initial consultation, 100% of both great toenails was affected. After discussion of all treatment options, the patient opted for topical efinaconazole 10% solution, once daily for 48 weeks. Significant improvement was noted at the first (4-week) assessment period. This improvement was maintained through each subsequent virtual consultation, and complete cure was seen at a 30-week follow-up visit. To the author’s knowledge, this is the first published report on the use of efinaconazole in total dystrophic onychomycosis. It suggests that the product may be effective in patients with even the most severe and treatment-recalcitrant disease, who are unwilling or unable to tolerate systemic antifungal therapy.