Why Every Podiatrist Must Be Well-Informed About Diabetes
Most of us need to visit a podiatrist on occasion, perhaps because we have a severe case of athlete’s foot, an ingrown toenail, or are experiencing the sudden-onset pain of plantar fasciitis. If you have diabetes, however, it is crucial that you make professional foot care part of your regular medical routine.
It is also essential that the podiatrist who cares for you be extremely well-informed about the disease and extremely careful with his/her diagnoses and treatments. Because very dry skin or certain sores on the feet may be a first sign of diabetes, it is critical that all podiatrists be aware of such symptoms and not treat them lightly. If your podiatrist suspects that you are an undiagnosed diabetic, he/she must refer you to a competent endocrinologist immediately.
You should, and probably do, know that diabetes, with all of its other troubling symptoms and complications, can be very dangerous to your feet, putting you at heightened risk not only for foot infections, but for amputation. Podiatric mistakes are problematic for any patient, but can be especially disastrous for patients who are diabetic. If you have consulted with a podiatrist who has diagnosed or treated your foot problem incorrectly, thus worsening your condition, you may well be able to obtain substantial compensation by filing a lawsuit against the negligent podiatrist. If you find yourself in this situation, it pays to find a medical malpractice attorney in your area who specializes in podiatry cases and who has an outstanding track record of success in this field.
What makes patients with diabetes more susceptible to foot problems?
There are two major reasons diabetic patients’ feet are more vulnerable to serious sores and infections than the average person:
- Neuropathy (nerve damage), a common complication of diabetes, causes lack of sensation in the feet so patients are unaware of cuts or cracks in the skin of their feet
- Poor circulation in the extremities of diabetic patients makes it more difficult for foot infections to heal
Neuropathy can lead to a patient not noticing that there is a pebble in his/her shoe, or that the shoe itself is poorly fitted, causing a blister or other type of lesion to form. Such a sore on the foot of a diabetic patient will heal more slowly than on the average person and can much more easily become infected. This is why a podiatrist must always be on the lookout for any podiatric signs of diabetes, which also include:  dry cracks in the skin  ingrown and fungal toenails  numbness in the feet or toes  Swelling of the foot or ankle  leg pain  changes in skin color  corns or calluses that bleed.
Has your podiatrist made a serious mistake?
Not only should your podiatrist be a practitioner who examines, diagnoses, prescribes, and does certain types of foot surgery, such as bunionectomies, your foot doctor should also educate patients in proper foot care at home, most especially if they are diabetic.
If your podiatrist neglects to see you regularly — for example, by neglecting to see you regularly enough to keep a careful eye on a worsening foot infection that eventually results in gangrene and possible amputation of a digit or a limb he/she may be found guilty in a podiatry malpractice suit. Other examples of podiatry malpractice are a botched or unnecessary surgical procedure for a bunion or neuroma.
A savvy podiatry malpractice attorney will evaluate your case to make sure it’s winnable. If it is, you stand to receive damages to reimburse you for loss of income, pain and suffering, ongoing medical costs and/or permanent disability. Because for patients with diabetes a podiatrist in one of the first lines of defense against a complex disorder, it is essential that you make sure your podiatrist is well-trained and well-respected. If you have already had a negative experience with a podiatrist and believe that doctor’s actions met the standard for malpractice, make sure to consult with a podiatry malpractice attorney as soon as possible.