We are currently in the midst of Diabetes Week, set up by the charity, Diabetes UK. This is an annual event and this year is running between 8 – 14 June. The aim of the week is to raise awareness of diabetes throughout the UK. This year they are focusing on that whilst everyone’s experience of diabetes differs, all are united by a common goal to build a better future. Whilst planned events have been understandably affected by Covid-19 and necessary social distancing, Diabetes UK is keen to improve awareness and seek to fundraise to better their research into the lifelong condition.

Diabetes is a condition, which affects approximately 4.7 million people within the UK; equating to one in 15 people. Someone is diagnosed with diabetes every two minutes. Worryingly more people with diabetes die prematurely every week. Awareness is key to enable diagnosis and effective management of symptoms and complications of diabetes.

Diabetes occurs where the body’s blood sugars become excessively high, as the glucose that they digest from food is not being broken down by a hormone called insulin. There are many different types of diabetes that exist, however the typical ones are Type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes.

Type 1 occurs primarily in children and young adults as cells within the pancreas, which produce insulin, are being attacked. The most common is Type 2 diabetes and a person can develop this at any stage of their life. It is associated with obesity, as the high blood sugars stem from a diet that is rich is sugar. Symptoms of these are as follows;

  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent thrush
  • Wounds healing slowly
  • Tiredness/fatigue
  • Loss of weight and muscle mass

Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy, as the body instinctively limits the breakdown caused by insulin, to encourage glucose to be used on the unborn baby for growth. Subsequently, the mother’s blood sugars increase. There are multiple tests available for diabetes during pregnancy, and where a mother is at risk, these tests should be taken. Failure to perform these tests can lead to a delay in diagnosis, and the complications of this includes;

  • Stillbirth
  • Premature birth
  • Excessive amniotic fluid which is likely to cause early labour, or further complications
  • Baby growing larger than expected, which can lead to shoulder dystocia (the baby becoming stuck in the birth canal).

As mentioned, public awareness of diabetes is crucial in ensuring that people are able to recognise the symptoms, so that they can seek medical support from their local GP. Failure to diagnose diabetes, or failure to properly manage diabetes can also lead to serious complications such as:

  • Damage to the nervous system
  • Damage to the brain
  • Problems with vision and potential blindness
  • Damage to the vascular system and break down in healthy tissue
  • Limb amputation
  • Heart disease
  • Death

Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a far reaching impact across the NHS. Due to the lockdown it has been difficult for patients to access face to face appointments with limited monitoring offered by medical professions. Whilst many people manage their diabetes on a day to day basis, it is likely that there will be a potential impact upon people due to inconsistent monitoring during the pandemic. Not being able to closely monitor a diabetic patient can result in the patient suffering vascular or limb compromise with an increase in the risk of hyperglycaemia and hypoglycaemia, all of which can lead to serious life changing or life limiting complications. This is why it is important that people know the symptoms of diabetes so they can seek urgent medical assistance if needed.

For more information on Diabetes Week 2020, see: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/Get_involved/Diabetes-Week#facts

For further information on diabetes, see the following link: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Diabetes/

Our specialist medical negligence team advises and supports people who have experienced a delay in diagnosis or have received incorrect treatment of diabetes. If you believe that yourself, or a loved one, has experienced poor medical treatment, please contact us as we may be able to assist you:

Karen Reynolds, Partner (Derby/Stoke on Trent/Birmingham) on 0845 274 6830 karen.reynolds@freeths.co.uk

Carolyn Lowe, Partner (Oxford/Milton Keynes/London/Bristol) on 0186 578 1019 carolyn.lowe@freeths.co.uk

Jane Williams, Partner (Leicester/Nottingham) on 0845 272 5724 jane.williams@freeths.co.uk