It is often forgotten that the preventable consequences of diabetes are just that: preventable. While diabetes itself cannot be cured, the symptoms that are experienced can be managed effectively. The level of care that is given determines whether the patient will be able to carry out his life normally or burdened with crushing ailments. In medical malpractice cases, the standard of care is the ruler that is used to measure the care given to a medical malpractice victim. In cases of diabetes medical malpractice, the standard of care for measuring blood sugar is regular home blood testing.
For over 30 years, the American Diabetes Association has been rallying for better preventative care for diabetes patients. One of the most essential ways in which diabetics can manage their symptoms is through regularly tracking their blood sugar. In 1976, the ADA published this statement, emphasizing the critical need for regular blood monitoring: "[T]he weight of evidence strongly supports the concept that microvascular complications of diabetes are decreased by reduction of blood glucose concentrations. The goal of appropriate therapy should include a serious effort to achieve levels of blood glucose as close to those in the nondiabetic person as feasible."
Although regular monitoring has been the standard of care since 1986, over a decade later in 1999, the CDC discovered that barely 40% of diabetics are testing their blood regularly. It was found that those patients who respected the toll that poor blood sugar control can take on their bodies were those who were the most adamant in their testing habits.
When blood sugar control is not monitored, the effects can be devastating:
- As many as 24,000 new cases of adult-onset blindness occur each year as a result of diabetes.
- Approximately 82,000 new lower-limb amputations occur each year, making diabetes the leading cause of non-traumatic amputation in the United States.
- 44% of new cases of end-stage kidney disease each year are caused by diabetes.
When a patient declares that he was not informed of the importance of home blood sugar testing, doctors oftentimes claim that the doctor informed the patient of the issue, but the patient refused to heed to the advice. In these cases, experienced diabetes medical malpractice attorneys know that a strong line of questioning usually reveals that the doctor failed to document this alleged conversation, even when everything else of consequence to the patient is recorded. One must remember that it is the physician's job to ensure that the patient is fully educated, and if the patient is not, it is important for the physician to make a referral to a diabetes education specialist.