Even the best doctors and medical professionals can make mistakes. Too many doctors are overworked and overbooked with patients, leading to a lack of communication and the individualized attention diabetic patients desperately need. Patients must be fully engaged in their medical care and actively involved in communicating with their doctor to maximize results and avoid falling victim to medical errors. It can be tempting to become a passive recipient of the information and instructions your doctor gives you. Many patients are afraid to ask questions or challenge what is presented to them.
You should always be respectful, organized, and open when communicating with your doctor about any concerns you may have regarding treatment. Your doctor is the expert and almost certainly has your best interest at heart. However, that does not mean that you have to give your power away or cannot critically examine the advice offered. Watch out for these four common mistakes that diabetic patients experience under physician care:
1. Misdiagnosing Which Type of Diabetes You Are Experiencing
Many doctors work from the generalization that type 1 diabetes develops in childhood and type 2 diabetes develops in adulthood, but that isn’t always the case. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, resulting in an inability to produce insulin. Type 2 diabetes is the result of insulin resistance, not a lack of insulin in the body. Your doctor should focus on understanding the cause of your diabetes before diagnosing with you with type 1 or type 2. It is possible to develop type 1 diabetes in adulthood, and it is possible to develop type 2 in childhood.
2. Prescription Refill Errors
People with diabetes tend to take more than a few prescription medications, and it can be difficult for both patients and physicians to keep those prescriptions straight. If you’ve been taking a particular medication twice a day, but when you go to get a refill, find the instructions have changed to just once a day, it’s time to call the doctor to confirm those changes and understand why your meds are being adjusted. Your prescriptions should never change without your knowledge, so make sure that any variation in your treatment plan is not made in error.
3. Prescribing More Than One Diabetic Medication Together
Unfortunately, it’s pretty standard practice for doctors to prescribe more than one medication to help regulate blood sugar levels, but this can lead to dangerous episodes of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). More than one blood sugar management prescription may be overkill and potentially even increase insulin resistance. If you’re prescribed more than one diabetic medication, make sure you know how to monitor your blood sugars and that you have access to emergency sugar at all times in case your blood sugar crashes unexpectedly. Talk to your doctor about alternatives, too.
4. Adding Insulin Too Soon (For Type 2 Diabetics)
If you have type 2 diabetes and your blood sugar levels are responding well to treatments like diet, exercise, and oral medication, but your doctor still wants your numbers to decrease further and prescribes insulin, you may want to have a direct conversation about your concerns regarding insulin. Remember that type 2 diabetes is about insulin resistance, and adding insulin to your treatment plan may worsen your condition.
If you have questions or concerns about your treatment plan, you should discuss them candidly with your provider and consider seeking additional opinions from other medical professionals. In the end, this is your body and your health. Your doctor should support your engagement with your treatment plan and your desire to explore all avenues to restoring health.