New technology is popping up all over in the medical community, from new diagnostic machines, to new ways of administering drugs, to an almost endless supply of self-monitoring devices such as blood glucose meters. But a technology often overlooked is one that could have the most impact-electronic medical records.
Are adults with diabetes better able to manage their disease if they can schedule same- or next-day appointments to see their doctors rather than sticking to appointments made in advance? The conventional wisdom goes that if people with diabetes can more quickly get in to see their doctors whenever problems comes up, the sooner they can receive treatment for it. However, an Indiana University School of Medicine study of 4,060 adults with diabetes being treated at 12 clinics showed that open-ended scheduling produced no benefit and, when it came to blood pressure control, actually worsened patients' conditions.
Can you imagine a hospital where the floors are carpeted, so you feel soothed and protected? Where the doors open silently so as not to jar your nerves? Where vending machines are filled with fresh fruits, and the healthier the meal in the cafeteria, the less it costs? How about elevator doors covered in exotic floral motifs, or a diabetes center where you never wait more than ten minutes to be seen?
Last March, an 11-year-old Wisconsin girl, Kara Neumann, died from diabetic ketoacidosis (a serious complication of diabetes that results when glucose is unavailable to the body as a fuel source, fat is used instead, and toxic byproducts of fat breakdown, called ketones, build up). Kara had undiagnosed type 1 diabetes. She was never treated by medical professionals because her parents believe that only God can heal the sick. They prayed for their daughter's health, but they did not seek medical attention.
Concerned about the growing number of Americans who are developing diabetes, Sanofi-aventis U.S. has launched the "Diabetes National Alliance" to provide healthcare professionals with information on the standard of care for people living with the disease.
A study published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine has found that the glucose control practices at academic medical centers are below par and fail to meet the current standards set by the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
The treatment of diabetes has come a long way since Dr. Elliot Joslin wrote The Treatment of Diabetes Mellitus in 1916. But Dr. Joslin's idea that diet, exercise, and insulin (when it became available as therapy in 1922) are the keys to managing diabetes remains true today. This doesn't mean that diabetes is not a complex illness requiring ongoing education and individualized care. People with diabetes benefit greatly from the services of a team of health care professionals including a certified diabetes educator and an endocrinologist--a doctor who specializes in treating disorders of the endocrine system.
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