Diabetes is one of those medical conditions that virtually everyone has encountered. I grew up from kindergarten through 12th grade with a friend who suffered from diabetes. I remember that she was a smart and funny person who accomplished a lot in her short life. Sadly, she lost her battle with diabetes not long after graduating from college.
Diabetes is actually a group of serious illnesses that all deal with how the body handles insulin. Insulin is a vital hormone generated by the pancreas, which regulates the amount of sugar or glucose in the blood.
In this article, we will discuss three types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, and gestational.
Type 1 diabetes is also sometimes called juvenile-onset diabetes, although it can develop in people of all ages. According to the U.S. Centers were Disease Control (CDC), there are approximately 1.6 million people with Type 1 diabetes in America. This figure includes nearly 190,000 people who are teenagers or younger.
The specific medical problem characterized in Type 1 diabetes is that the body doesn’t produce insulin. Endocrinologists, who are specialized physicians who diagnose and treat diabetes and other hormonal disorders, help patients manage Type 1 diabetes with insulin shots and dietary guidelines.
Type 2 diabetes is also sometimes called adult-onset diabetes. It is most commonly diagnosed in individuals who are over 45 years old, but people of any age can also develop it. According to the CDC, nearly 10% of the U.S. population has Type 2 diabetes. That works out to about 34 million Americans.
Type 2 diabetics produce insulin, but their bodies cannot regulate it properly. Endocrinologists and other doctors involved in treating patients with Type 2 diabetes typically start with recommending lifestyle and dietary changes. While some people are able to control Type 2 diabetes with exercise and a healthy diet, others require medications.
Consequences of poor treatment
Neither Type 1 nor Type 2 diabetes is something to trifle with. As I mentioned earlier, my childhood friend died in her 20s from diabetes. I remember hearing concerns about a church pianist going blind because of diabetes. She, too, lost her life prematurely.
Common complications of unmanaged, uncontrolled diabetes include blindness, poor circulation to the lower extremities that can lead to amputation, peripheral nerve damage in the extremities (diabetic neuropathy), kidney and cardiac problems, and, of course, death.
Here are some statistics for diabetes-related conditions:
• Recent research from the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association shows that patients with Type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease.
• Around 20,000 adults compliant annually from diabetic complications.
• The number one cause of leg amputations in America unrelated to trauma or an accident is diabetes. Diabetes leads to over 80,000 amputations each year.
• Nearly half of new kidney disease cases are chalked up to diabetes.
Gestation is another word for pregnancy. Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes is diagnosed during pregnancy in a patent who hasn’t been previously diagnosed with the condition.
Women with gestational diabetes are unable to maintain proper blood glucose or sugar levels. With consistent quality prenatal care, an obstetrician (a physician specializing in pregnancy and labor and delivery care) should be able to make a timely diagnosis of gestational diabetes. A good obstetrician will want to see patients with gestational diabetes more often and will regularly order blood work to track the moms blood glucose levels.
This additional care is important because untreated gestational diabetes puts the baby at risk for an abnormally high birth weight, which can make a safe natural delivery very difficult. Unmanaged gestational diabetes can also cause babies to have breathing/respiratory challenges and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) after delivery. Interestingly, it also increases the little one’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in the future. Worst of all, though, gestational diabetes can lead to the death of the baby around labor and delivery.
Diabetes medical malpractice
Unlike some areas of medicine, the standards of care for the diagnosis and treatment of the common types of diabetes are well defined. The American Diabetes Association publishes robust standards of medical care for diabetes that are updated regularly. It’s important for doctors and other healthcare providers to be familiar with the standards because diabetes is a risk factor for so many other conditions and complications.
While there is no doubt that managing and treating diabetes is a team effort for doctors, nurses, and patients, there is a serious needless additional risk to patients when healthcare providers don’t follow the standard of care.
The standard of care requires physicians to order regular blood glucose monitoring, which can be done at home by the patient. Unfortunately, statistics show that this often is not accomplished. One of the most important responsibilities of doctors, physician’s assistants, and nurse practitioners treating diabetic patients is to counsel them on the importance of blood sugar or glucose monitoring. When this type of patient education is not performed, it’s a violation of the standard of care.
If you’ve been seriously injured because of poor diabetic care, then contact the top-rated experienced Houston, Texas medical malpractice lawyer for help in evaluating your potential case.