Thursday, 24 September 2015

Unexplained deaths in young diabetics and other poor treatment outcomes

Here is the text of a letter to the editor I had published recently in the online section of several newspapers:

Diabetes deaths

Yet another death of a young diabetic reported in The Canberra Times ("Woman may have lived if response had been quicker", August15, p3). A Canberra hospital staff member has told me there are many poor outcomes among a group of their patients with type 1 or juvenile onset diabetes. When is the Health Minister going to respond to the systemic issues relating to diabetes care, which have been notified to him?
Dr Nick Melhuish, Hughes

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 I am also aware of a third young Canberra diabetic who also died in similar circumstances, soon after moving away.

The ACT Health Minister still refuses to comment of the issue of poor Type 1 diabetic outcomes. And while the complication rates of surgeons are subject to intense scrutiny, and made public if they are a few standard deviations from the norm, the outcomes of treatment provided by physicians are swept under the carpet. Despite the number of poor outcomes reported to me, I believe there has never even been any audit in Australia of outcomes in people with diabetes and Addison's disease.

I have read much of the original literature on the subject of "unexplained" deaths in young diabetics, and it certainly does not support the view that these deaths are unrelated to treatment methods or lifestyle variables.