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Press Release: Hundreds of Thousands of Veterans are Dying from Diabetic Foot Ulcer Within the VHA when a Life-Saving Treatment is Available but Unused


The Veteran Diabetic Foot Ulcer (DFU) Epidemic

Veteran Eric Koleda of the TreatNOW Coalition has released The Veteran Diabetic Foot Ulcer (DFU) Epidemic: A U.S. Department of Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) Services Review.

His analysis of recent data acquired from a Congressional office provided by the Deputy Under Secretary of Health for the VHA indicates 796,340 Veterans have died from Diabetic Foot Ulcer (DFU) and Lower Limb Amputation (LLA) in the past 22-years. This is more than all the Veterans Killed in Action in all the U.S. Wars (623,982) since the start of World War I. The current VHA DFU Lower Limb Amputations (LLA) Veteran mortality rate is 64-71 percent within 3-years post-LLA surgery.

The report indicates an estimated annual $2.7 billion spent for Veteran DFU and Lower Limb Amputation in surgical, hospitalization, aftercare, prosthesis and wheelchair, and disability costs. All 2021 DFU 9,542 Veterans could have been treated with CMS, FDA, and Tricare approved HBOT for approximately $115 million, just 4% of the estimated annual cost.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) has been approved by the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) since 2002 for all Veterans over the age of 65. According to the recent VHA data, the average age for DFU Veterans having Lower Limb Amputations due to DFU’s is 66.2 years old. The majority were eligible to receive CMS covered HBOT treatments as an insured treatment. The VHA data indicates the last 20-years on average 93.7 percent of DFU Veterans are not receiving HBOT treatments. The industry average is 74 percent heal rate for DFU cases when treated with HBOT.

The 50-page report raises several questions: If Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy has been approved since 2002 and Veterans are eligible to receive the insured treatments, why is the VHA delaying timely referrals or denying Veterans access to treatment that will save their lives in 74% of cases? If there is even a 15-day delay in referring DFU Wagner Grade III Veterans for HBOT treatments outside the VHA, it is potentially a death sentence.

The doctrine of “Informed Consent” seeks to ensure that doctors: tell patients of their diagnosis; those patients understand the nature and purpose of recommended interventions; and, most importantly, that patients are made aware of the burdens, risks and expected benefits of all options under the Code of Medical Ethics Opinion 2.1.1. Are the VHA medical doctors informing DFU Veterans they are entitled to receive HBOT treatments?

The VHA currently does not operate any HBOT chambers in their 1,298 healthcare facilities nationwide. There are an estimated 1,156 hospitals across the U.S. with HBOT chambers staffed with medically qualified, trained, and certified personnel.

Read the report :: Here ::