This work from our combined University of Arizona, USC SALSA and University of Washington teams in BMJ Diabetes
Introduction This study aimed to examine the association of race and ethnicity on the risk of lower extremity amputations among Medicare beneficiaries with diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs) and diabetic foot infections (DFIs).
Research design and methods A retrospective study included 2011–2015 data of a 5% sample of fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries with a newly diagnosed DFU and/or DFI. The primary outcome was the time to the first major amputation episode after a DFU and/or DFI were identified using the diagnosis and procedure codes. We used multivariable Cox proportional hazards models to estimate the risk of time to the first major amputation across races, adjusting for sociodemographic and health status factors. Adjusted hazard ratios (aHRs) with a 95% CI were reported.
Results Among 92 929 Medicare beneficiaries newly diagnosed with DFUs and/or DFIs, 77% were whites, 14.3% African Americans (AAs), 3.3% Hispanics, 0.7% Native Americans (NAs), and 4.0% were other races. The incidence rates of major amputation were 0.02 person-years for NAs, 0.02 person-years for AAs, 0.01 person-years for Hispanics, 0.01 person-years for other races, and 0.01 person-years for whites (p<0.05). Multivariable analysis showed that AAs (aHR=1.9, 95% CI 1.7 to 2.2, p<0.0001) and NAs (aHR=1.8, 95% CI 1.3 to 2.6, p=0.001) were associated with an increased risk of major amputation compared with whites. Beneficiaries with DFUs and/or DFIs diagnosed by a podiatrist or primary care physician (aHR=0.7, 95% CI 0.6 to 0.8, p<0.0001, specialists as reference) or at an outpatient visit (aHR=0.3, 95% CI 0.3 to 0.3, p<0.0001, inpatient stay as reference) were associated with a decreased risk of major amputation.
Conclusions Racial and ethnic disparities in the risk of lower extremity amputations appear to exist among fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries with diabetic foot problems. AAs and NAs with DFUs and/or DFIs were associated with an increased risk of major amputations compared with white Medicare beneficiaries.