The Doctor-Patient Disconnect in Diabetes Treatment

Amy Tenderich Health Guide
  • Reprinted with permission from Amy Tenderich of

    Reuters UK reports: Americans need more help managing diabetes.

    The story, focusing mainly on Type 2 diabetes, suggests that "U.S. patients and doctors alike show a surprising level of ignorance about diabetes and are not doing nearly enough to manage the condition."

    This is particularly vexing news considering the other big D headline this week: "73 Million People in the U.S. Have Diabetes or Are At Risk."

    Don't you love it when it takes a panel of international experts to identify the totally obvious? According to the group in the Reuters report, the primary troubles are:
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    * One doctor can't do everything for a patient. We need medical insurance that will cover nurses, certified diabetes educators (CDEs), nutrionists and other providers

    * A poll commissioned by an endocrinologists' group and the American Association of Diabetes Educators surveying 780 patients and more than 400 primary care physicians identified a "disconnect" between what patients know about diabetes and what they actually do in real life

    * Half of patients surveyed showed little or no understanding of their A1C level (that protein measurement indicating how well your blood sugar has been controlled for the past three months)

    * "It's like knowledge doesn't equate to behavior change," one doctor in Michigan says (!)

    * The majority of the primary care physicians surveyed (78 percent) said insulin resistance is the most important contributor to progression of Type 2 diabetes. WRONG! The experts say the progressive damage of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas is likely a more important factor than insulin resistance

    * "This suggests that primary care physicians do not consistently focus on how beta cells in the pancreas work," notes that Michigan doctor


    Why is it NEWS that following your doctor's prescribed diabetes regimen (Type 2 or 1) is difficult in the Real World? Are patients in the UK really so much more proper? (perhaps...)

    And has anyone ever visited a primary care physician for their diabetes and heard the term "beta cell"? If so, where can we find this extraordinary doc?

    In any case, I'll be attending the annual American Diabetes Association Conference in two weeks, and I'm hoping to interview beta cell research expert Dr. Camilo Ricordi there. I will surely ask him what, if anything, is being done to inform general practicioners around the country about beta cells and better treating diabetes?! And of course, I'll be on the lookout for the medical community's answers to this issue of patients "not connecting the dots"!
Published On: May 31, 2006