Testing your blood for diabetes too much is bad for health

January 7, 2016 7:55 am
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In a study released in the BMJ, researchers from Mayo Clinic in the US report a trend toward over-testing glycated haemoglobin (HbA1C) levels in adult patients with type 2 diabetes.

Over-testing causes redundancy and waste, says the study team, adding unnecessary costs and time burden for patients and providers.

In addition, excessive testing can result in over-treatment with hypoglycaemic drugs, adding additional cost and potential health complications.

Type 2 diabetes monitoring and treatment protocols are not well defined by professional societies and regulatory bodies.

While lower thresholds of testing frequencies are often discussed, the upper boundaries are rarely mentioned.

Yet, most agree that for adult patients who are not using insulin, have stable glycaemic control within the recommended targets and have no history of severe hypoglycaemia or hyperglycaemia, checking once or twice a year should suffice.

Yet, in practice, there is a much higher prevalence of excess testing.

“Our findings are concerning, especially as we focus more on improving the value of care we deliver to our patients – not only ensuring maximal benefit, but also being mindful of waste, patient burden and healthcare costs,” says Dr Rozalina McCoy, a Mayo Clinic primary care physician and endocrinologist, and the study’s lead investigator.