Venous Leg Ulcers and the Family Physician

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Family physicians often are the first contact for patients with venous leg ulcerations (VLUs). A random survey of 2,000 family physicians was conducted to determine patterns for diagnosis and treatment of VLUs, including type of leg ulcer (arterial, venous, diabetic), whether compression therapy was ordered, whether a Doppler system was available to aide in diagnosis, and which health care professional ultimately cared for the patient. Of the 325 family physicians who participated, 96% (311/325) see patients with VLUs, averaging 1.5 VLUs per week. Compression therapy is prescribed by 96% of family physicians, and 83% (259/325) refer these patients to other health care professionals. Only 27% (89/325) have a Doppler system in the office to measure the ankle-brachial index (ABI). These findings document for the first time in the United States the large number of patients with VLUs seen by family physicians.

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