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Self-directed treatment for lower limb wounds in persons with diabetes: a short report

Authors Harnarayan P, Cawich S, Islam S, Ramsewak S, Naraynsingh V

Received 31 May 2014

Accepted for publication 25 July 2014

Published 2 September 2014 Volume 2014:8 Pages 1173—1177


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Johnny Chen

Patrick Harnarayan, Shamir O Cawich, Shariful Islam, Shivaa Ramsewak, Vijay Naraynsingh

Department of Clinical Surgical Sciences, University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus, Trinidad and Tobago

Aim: There has been little focus on self-directed treatment for lower limb wounds, although it a common practice among persons with diabetes across the Caribbean. We sought to document this practice in a Caribbean nation.
Methods: We prospectively interviewed all consecutive patients with diabetes who were admitted with lower limb wounds at the San Fernando General Hospital in Trinidad and Tobago over a period of 18 months. A questionnaire was used to collect data on patient demographics, use of self-directed treatment, and details of these treatments.
Results: Of 839 persons with diabetes who were admitted with infected lower limb wounds, 344 (41%) admitted to self-directed treatment before seeking medical attention. These patients were predominantly male (59.9%) at a mean age of 56.4±12.4 years. The practice was most common in persons of Afro-Caribbean descent (45.9%) and those with type 2 diabetes (93.9%). In this group, 255 (74.4%) patients were previously admitted to hospital for lower limb infections. And of those, 32 (12.6%) had a prior amputation and 108 (42.4%) had at least one operative debridement specifically for foot infections.
Conclusion: Caribbean cultural practices may be an important contributor to negative outcomes when treating lower limb wounds in persons with diabetes. Despite being acutely aware of the potentially devastating consequences of inadequate treatment, 41% of our patients with diabetes still opted to use self-directed treatment for lower limb wounds. This deserves further study in order to give a more tailored approach in care delivery.

Keywords: diabetes, foot infection, alternative, home, remedy, amputation

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