Surprising new treatment options for Type 2 diabetes

In 1992-93, during my first year of medical school at Marshall University, I remember hearing  professor after professor comment about how three things are risk factors for lots of acquired medical conditions. As you might guess, the three risk factors are weight, smoking, and diabetes.

As a medical malpractice lawyer, I keep these risk factors in mind as I meet with new clients about their cases and review their medical records. This is an important consideration from the beginning of our representation, because we want to be ready to rebut defendants’ common finger-pointing at these risk factors as cop-outs or excuses for the poor health care that they provided, which led to a lawsuit.

What is Type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes often has a particularly significant impact on health and wellbeing, from wound healing to neuropathies, and lots of things in between.

Type 2 diabetes, or adult-onset diabetes, is an illness where your blood glucose (sugar) levels are higher than normal (hyperglycemia).

Our bodies use a hormone called insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. People with Type 2 diabetes have insulin resistance, which means that their bodies do not use insulin properly.

When glucose accumulates in the blood, rather than going into cells, it immediately starves the cells for energy. Over time, hyperglycemia can damages the eyes, kidneys, nervous system, and heart.

The risk factors for Type 2 diabetes include being overweight or obese, hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol , age, race, family history, genetics, and a past history of blood sugar disorders.

Conventionally, Type 2 diabetes patients have been treated with physician recommendations for careful meal planning and staying physically active, as well as prescription medications. Most Type 2 diabetics eventually face a lifetime of finger-prick blood tests to measure glucose levels, followed by insulin injections.

A new treatment approach

I recently read a fascinating article in the July 2017 issue of Scientific American, called Operation: Diabetes.

In 1999, a physician/scientist stumbled onto some medical journal articles about a bariatric surgery called biliopancreatic diversion that is sometimes used to help morbidly obese people lose weight. While most of the patients had Type 2 diabetes before their surgeries (largely caused by being overweight), almost immediately afterwards their blood sugar levels had returned to normal. Even years after surgery, most of them remained diabetes-free without dietary restrictions or medications.

The explanation for this surprising phenomenon starts with the fact that the small intestine produces hormones that aid the pancreas in producing extra insulin. Later animal and human studies have shown that reducing the surface of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract has a more profound effect on controlling diabetes than the conventional treatment options.

Still more studies have shown a similar impact with other types of bariatric weight loss procedures, including gastric bypass, Roux-en-Y, and similar operations.

This research has inspired studies into non-surgical options, including a sleeve that can be inserted into the intestines through the throat and the stomach, to block the part of the small intestine that mixes partially digested food with bile and pancreatic juices. This one spot of the small intestine seems to be the key to modifying glucose control.

As I finished reading this article in Scientific American, I thought about the many bariatric surgery medical malpractice and wrongful death cases that I have handled in recent years. Almost all of the patients had Type 2 diabetes before their surgeries, but that condition disappeared from their medical problem list after their weight loss surgery.

I appreciate pioneers in medical research who think outside the box and resist the temptation to continue treating Type 2 diabetes, and other conditions the same way that we have always treated them.

What you can do

If you have Type 2 diabetes, you may consider talking your doctor about other treatment options, rather than the conventional approach of diet, medications, and insulin injections. I think we will see more and more advances and treatment options over the next decade.

The medical malpractice lawyers at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas, consistently read medical literature and work with medical experts that they retain in lawsuits to keep up with the current standards of care. If you or someone you care for has been seriously injured because of medical malpractice or a mistake by a doctor, hospital, nurse, or pharmacist, call us at 281-580-8800, for a complimentary evaluation of your potential case.


Attorney Robert Painter represents and files lawsuits on behalf of victims of medical malpractice. He is a member of Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas.

Robert Painter
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Robert Painter

Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas. Contact him for a free consultation and strategy session by calling 281-580-8800 or emailing him right now.