BACKGROUND: Chronic wounds, including pressure sores, leg ulcers, diabetic foot ulcers and other kinds of wounds, healing by secondary intention are common in both acute and community settings. The prevention and treatment of chronic wounds includes many strategies, including the use of various wound dressings, bandages, antimicrobial agents, footwear, physical therapies and educational strategies. This review is one of a series of reviews, and focuses on the prevention and treatment of diabetic foot ulcers and the role of antimicrobial agents in chronic wounds in general. OBJECTIVES: To assess the clinical- and cost-effectiveness of (1) prevention and treatment strategies for diabetic foot ulcers and (2) systemic and topical antimicrobial agents in the prevention and healing of chronic wounds. METHODS - DATA SOURCES: Nineteen electronic databases were searched, including MEDLINE, CINAHL, Embase and the Cochrane Library. Relevant journals, conference proceedings and bibliographies of retrieved papers were hand-searched. An expert panel was consulted. METHODS - STUDY SELECTION: Randomised and non-randomised trials with a concurrent control group, which evaluated any intervention for the prevention or treatment of diabetic foot ulcers, or systemic or topical antimicrobials for chronic wounds (diabetic foot ulcers, pressure ulcers, leg ulcers of various aetiologies, pilonidal sinuses, non-healing surgical wounds, and cavity wounds) and used objective measures of outcome such as: (1) development or resolution of callus; (2) incidence of ulceration (for diabetic foot ulcer prevention studies); (3) incidence of pressure sores (pressure sore prevention studies); (4) any objective measure of wound healing (frequency of complete healing, change in wound size, time to healing, rate of healing); (5) ulcer recurrence rates; (6) side-effects; (7) amputation rates (diabetic foot ulcer treatment studies); (8) healing rates and recurrence of disease, among others, for pilonidal sinuses. Studies reporting solely microbiological outcomes were excluded. Decisions on the inclusion of primary studies were made independently by two reviewers. Disagreements were resolved through discussion. Data were extracted by one reviewer into structured summary tables. Data extraction was checked independently by a second reviewer and discrepancies resolved by discussion. All included studies were assessed against a comprehensive checklist for methodological quality. INCLUDED STUDIES - DIABETIC FOOT ULCERS: Thirty-nine trials which evaluated various prevention and treatment modalities for diabetic foot ulcers: footwear (2), hosiery (1), education (5), screening and foot protection programme (1); podiatry (1) for the prevention of diabetic foot ulcers; and footwear (1), skin replacement (2), hyperbaric oxygen (2), ketanserin (3), prostaglandins (3), growth factors (5), dressings and topical applications (9), debridement (2) and antibiotics (2) for the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers. INCLUDED STUDIES - ANTIMICROBIALS: Thirty studies were included, 25 with a randomised design. There were nine evaluations of systemic antimicrobials and 21 of topical agents. QUALITY OF STUDIES: The methodological and reporting quality was generally poor. Commonly encountered problems of reporting included lack of clarity about randomisation and outcome measurement procedures, and lack of baseline descriptive data. Common methodological weaknesses included: lack of blinded outcome assessment and lack of adjustment for baseline differences in important variables such as wound size; large loss to follow-up; and no intention-to-treat analysis. RESULTS - PREVENTION OF DIABETIC FOOT ULCERS: There is some evidence (1 large trial) that a screening and foot protection programme reduces the rate of major amputations. The evidence for special footwear (2 small trials) and educational programmes (5 trials) is equivocal. A single trial of podiatric care reported a significantly greater reduction in callus in patients receiving podiatric care. RESULTS - TREATMENT OF DIABETIC FOOT ULCERS: Total contact casting healed significantly more ulcers than did standard treatment in one study. There is evidence from 5 trials of topical growth factors to suggest that these, particularly platelet-derived growth factor, may increase the healing rate of diabetic foot ulcers. Although these studies were of relatively good quality, the sample sizes were far too small to make any definitive conclusions, and growth factors should be compared with current standard treatments in large, multicentre studies. Topical ketanserin increased ulcer healing rate in 2 studies, while systemic hyperbaric oxygen therapy reduced the rate of major amputations in 1 study. Preliminary research into the effects of iloprost and prostaglandin E1 (PGE1) on diabetic foot ulcer healing suggests possible benefits. However, good quality, large-scale confirmatory research is needed. (ABSTRACT TRUNCATED) (+info)
(2/300) The use of information technology in improving medical performance. Part III. Patient-support tools.
Despite the proliferation of computer-based resources for patients, usefulness has been limited to date. Already, 17,000 biomedical Internet sites exist, and patients are increasingly finding support and knowledge on the Internet, but the accuracy of the information found is highly variable and difficult for patients to assess. Patients have also found value in electronic communication with physicians, although relatively few physicians routinely use email to communicate with patients on a regular basis. Nonetheless, patient-focused information technologies potentially will have profound effects on medical care. With advancing sophistication of technology, patients will increasingly be able to compare and choose doctors using the Internet and to access information that allows them to monitor and regulate the quality of their own care. Further, technologies will likely be developed to allow patients to increasingly manage their own care -- whether they are patients with chronic illnesses such as diabetes or congestive heart failure who use customized software to adjust drug dosages and other treatments or patients with such common illnesses as headache or gastrointestinal infection who access self-management programs that may even write prescriptions for them. Thoughtful analysis and policy development will be critical for ensuring that the benefits are maximized and potential harm minimized. Specific areas include assessing the effects on outcomes and the characteristics of patients and technologies that succeed with self-management, and developing policies regarding liability for Web-based medical transactions and the privacy of information provided to physicians by email and via interactive Web sites. (+info)
(3/300) The use of information technology in improving medical performance. Part II. Physician-support tools.
Increasing data from a few sites demonstrate that information technologies can improve physician decision making and clinical effectiveness. For example, computer-based physician order entry systems, automated laboratory alert systems, and artificial neural networks have demonstrated significant reductions in medical errors. In addition, Internet services to disseminate new knowledge and safety alerts to physicians more rationally and effectively are rapidly developing, and telemedicine to improve rural access to specialty services is undergoing substantial growth. However, even technologies demonstrated to yield beneficial effects have not yet achieved widespread adoption, though the pace of change appears to be increasing as the Internet takes hold. Scientific evaluation of many technologies is also lacking, and the dangers of some of these technologies may be underappreciated. Research on the effects of specific technologies should be a priority. Policies should be developed to press information technology companies, such as pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers, to recognize the importance of clinical evaluation. Research could also analyze the characteristics of effective technologies and of physicians and organizations who implement these technologies effectively. (+info)
(4/300) The use of information technology in improving medical performance. Part I. Information systems for medical transactions.
Investment in medical information technologies reached $15 billion in 1996. However, these technologies have not had the wide impact predicted in streamlining bureaucracy, improving communications, and raising the effectiveness of care. In this series, we identify how such technologies are being used to improve quality and performance, the future directions for advancement, and the policy and research developments required to maximize public benefit from these technologies. Each of these articles focuses on a different type of information technology: (1) information systems to manage medical transactions; (2) physician-support technologies to improve medical practice; and (3) patient-focused technologies designed to change how people manage their own care. This first article of a 3-part series examines the successes of and opportunities for using advanced information systems that track and manage medical transactions for large populations to improve performance. Examples of such systems include: HEDIS, which gathers standardized data from health plans on quality of care; the USQA Health Services Research Program, which tracks treatment patterns and outcomes for 14 million insurance members; Ford's program to collect medical data for over 600,000 employees; and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care's system of computerized laboratory, pharmacy, ambulatory, and hospital admission records for its 1.5 million members. Data from these systems have led to modest improvements in knowledge and practice patterns for some diseases. Significant barriers are slowing efforts to add outcomes data to these databases and broaden the databases to cover larger populations. Nonetheless, existing data in currently evolving systems could be used to greater benefit in tracking public health and in identifying more effective treatments and causes of diseases. (+info)
(5/300) Environmental practices for biomedical research facilities.
As a result of the Leadership Conference on Biomedical Research and the Environment, the Facilities Committee focused its work on the development of best environmental practices at biomedical research facilities at the university and independent research facility level as well as consideration of potential involvement of for-profit companies and government agencies. The designation "facilities" includes all related buildings and grounds, "green auditing" of buildings and programs, purchasing of furnishings and sources, energy efficiency, and engineering services (lighting, heating, air conditioning), among other activities. The committee made a number of recommendations, including development of a national council for environmental stewardship in biomedical research, development of a system of green auditing of such research facilities, and creation of programs for sustainable building and use. In addition, the committee recommended extension of education and training programs for environmental stewardship, in cooperation with facilities managers, for all research administrators and researchers. These programs would focus especially on graduate fellows and other students, as well as on science labs at levels K--12. (+info)
(6/300) Development of a pollution prevention and energy efficiency clearinghouse for biomedical research facilities.
This is the report of the National Association of Physicians for the Environment Committee on Development of a Pollution Prevention and Energy Efficiency Clearinghouse for Biomedical Research Facilities from the Leadership Conference on Biomedical Research and the Environment held at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, on 1--2 November 1999. A major goal of the conference was the establishment of a World Wide Web-based clearinghouse, which would lend tremendous resources to the biomedical research community by providing access to a database of peer-reviewed articles and references dealing with a host of aspects of biomedical research relating to energy efficiency, pollution prevention, and waste reduction. A temporary website has been established with the assistance of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regions III and IV, where a pilot site provides access to the EPA's existing databases on these topics. A system of peer review for articles and promising techniques still must be developed, but a glimpse of topics and search engines is available for comment and review on the EPA Region IV-supported website (http://wrrc.p2pays.org/). (+info)
(7/300) Minimization and management of wastes from biomedical research.
Several committees were established by the National Association of Physicians for the Environment to investigate and report on various topics at the National Leadership Conference on Biomedical Research and the Environment held at the 1--2 November 1999 at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. This is the report of the Committee on Minimization and Management of Wastes from Biomedical Research. Biomedical research facilities contribute a small fraction of the total amount of wastes generated in the United States, and the rate of generation appears to be decreasing. Significant reductions in generation of hazardous, radioactive, and mixed wastes have recently been reported, even at facilities with rapidly expanding research programs. Changes in the focus of research, improvements in laboratory techniques, and greater emphasis on waste minimization (volume and toxicity reduction) explain the declining trend in generation. The potential for uncontrolled releases of wastes from biomedical research facilities and adverse impacts on the general environment from these wastes appears to be low. Wastes are subject to numerous regulatory requirements and are contained and managed in a manner protective of the environment. Most biohazardous agents, chemicals, and radionuclides that find significant use in research are not likely to be persistent, bioaccumulative, or toxic if they are released. Today, the primary motivations for the ongoing efforts by facilities to improve minimization and management of wastes are regulatory compliance and avoidance of the high disposal costs and liabilities associated with generation of regulated wastes. The committee concluded that there was no evidence suggesting that the anticipated increases in biomedical research will significantly increase generation of hazardous wastes or have adverse impacts on the general environment. This conclusion assumes the positive, countervailing trends of enhanced pollution prevention efforts by facilities and reductions in waste generation resulting from improvements in research methods will continue. (+info)
(8/300) Biomedical research leaders: report on needs, opportunities, difficulties, education and training, and evaluation.
The National Association of Physicians for the Environment (NAPE) has assumed a leadership role in protecting environmental health in recent years. The Committee of Biomedical Research Leaders was convened at the recent NAPE Leadership Conference: Biomedical Research and the Environment held on 1--2 November 1999, at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland. This report summarizes the discussion of the committee and its recommendations. The charge to the committee was to raise and address issues that will promote and sustain environmental health, safety, and energy efficiency within the biomedical community. Leaders from every important research sector (industry laboratories, academic health centers and institutes, hospitals and care facilities, Federal laboratories, and community-based research facilities) were gathered in this committee to discuss issues relevant to promoting environmental health. The conference and this report focus on the themes of environmental stewardship, sustainable development and "best greening practices." Environmental stewardship, an emerging theme within and outside the biomedical community, symbolizes the effort to provide an integrated, synthesized, and concerted effort to protect the health of the environment in both the present and the future. The primary goal established by the committee is to promote environmentally responsible leadership in the biomedical research community. Key outcomes of the committee's discussion and deliberation were a) the need for a central organization to evaluate, promote, and oversee efforts in environmental stewardship; and b) immediate need to facilitate efficient information transfer relevant to protecting the global environment through a database/clearinghouse. Means to fulfill these needs are discussed in this report. (+info)