April 30, 2011

Patients Lack Knowledge About Hypoglycemia

I have to take my hat off to the endocrinologists. They took a survey which puts them in a bad light and published it. Most organizations would have put this information through the shredder. Few in the medical profession are willing to to look problems in the eye and address it head on. Will they succeed? – that remains to be seen. There are a lot of hurdles to over come, the biggest is our medical insurance industry, Medicare, and the complexities of the new healthcare law.

Why are patients with diabetes unaware of hypoglycemia and what causes hypoglycemia? To me the broader implication is the lack of time by the medical community at large. Many primary care physicians and doctors in family medicine do not have the time or resources to educate patients. Many are in rural areas, small towns, and even many small city settings that do not have diabetes educators available. Many do not even have diabetes support groups to get support from.

Then add to this our medical insurance industry led by Medicare, that is cutting costs where ever possible and we have a situation ripe for failure. Many patients when they are newly diagnosed are in shock, causing very few to listen carefully to what they are being told by the doctor. Therefore, the doctors should be able to schedule another appointment shortly thereafter to do some education, but most of our insurance companies will not reimburse for the time.

The results of a survey conducted by the American College of Endocrinology therefore does not surprise me. This also shows just how reluctant our medical professionals are to recommend good web sites and help their patients get the information needed.  One site listed here has some information; however, there could be a better presentation and one that is more patient oriented and not so sterile and written for doctors. The information is presented in PDF files that can be downloaded and printed for reference.

The other part of the survey, not mentioned, is where the survey was taken. If it was taken from a cross sample, then good. Otherwise from only rural areas, or only large metropolitan areas could also greatly affect the outcome of the survey. National online surveys can be notoriously misleading and little reliance should be placed on them.

The only real part of this survey is that the numbers, regardless of the method of obtaining them, show that the USA has a serious problem and needs to find a way to educate people with diabetes. Read a doctors interpretation of the survey here and the news release here. The PDF file for low blood sugar is here and the PDF file for high blood sugar is here.

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