Management patterns and outcomes of patients hospitalized with diabetic foot ulcers at one tertiary care hospital

Ajay Bhasin*, Karen Marie Krueger, Janna Williams, Reeti Gulati, Nathan Sisler, Shannon Galvin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


A diabetic foot ulcer is present in approximately 2.4% of hospitalized patients. Care for diabetic foot ulcers is highly variable. We sought to describe care practice patterns and risk factors for poor outcomes for patients hospitalized with a diabetic foot ulcer in our institution, an 894-bed tertiary care academic hospital located in downtown Chicago, IL. We conducted a retrospective cohort study of patients hospitalized with a diabetic foot ulcer between March 3rd, 2018 and December 31st, 2019. We categorized patients into having an uncomplicated ulcer or a complicated ulcer with cellulitis, wound infection, osteomyelitis, or gangrene. We evaluated rates of diagnostic resource utilization (imaging, cultures, biopsies, and antibiotics) and outcomes of osteomyelitis, amputation, and death. There were 305 patients of interest in the study cohort. A complicated lower extremity ulcer was found in 79% of patients. Amputation was required in 25% of patients, 21% were readmitted, and 13% died. Imaging was obtained in less than 50% of all patients, and in 60% or less of those with osteomyelitis. Bone biopsies were rarely acquired. Empiric antibiotics were prescribed in 77% of patients with osteomyelitis. Male, Black or African-American patients, and those with high Charlson score had the highest risk of poor outcomes. Care practices for patients hospitalized with diabetic foot ulcers were highly variable. Future interventions should target standardization to improve outcomes, with particular attention to health inequities as vulnerable populations have a higher risk of poor outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-191
Number of pages7
JournalInternal and Emergency Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • Diabetes
  • Foot ulcer
  • Infection
  • Musculoskeletal
  • Orthopedics
  • Vascular

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Emergency Medicine


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