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Diabetes health needs haven’t stopped for the pandemic


Doug Hendrie


20/04/2020 4:40:01 PM

People with diabetes may be delaying getting care – so GPs should reach out, according to an expert.

Person with diabetes measuring blood sugar levels.
Diabetes needs ongoing management – even during the coronavirus outbreak.

‘Patients with diabetes have ongoing health needs that don’t stop for the pandemic.’
 
That is Dr Gary Deed, Chair of the RACGP Specific Interests Diabetes network, talking about the launch of a new fact sheet designed to help GPs care for their patients with diabetes during the coronavirus pandemic.
 
‘Patients may be delaying or not following their usual health goals and management as required,’ Dr Deed told newsGP.
 
‘Practices need to identify all their patients with diabetes and encourage them to attend by telehealth or face-to-face as necessary.’
 
He suggests producing a handwritten sick day management plan in case people start to feel unwell from any cause, or from hyperglycaemia.
 
Dr Deed also said GPs should be particularly alert to the possibility of acute diabetic ketoacidosis, which can mimic viral symptoms – and could even be mistaken for the coronavirus.
 
‘It would be a pity to miss those patients in the concern around COVID-19,’ he said.
 
‘GPs should read about this now and prepare for it, as their patients with diabetes won’t be able to follow a plan unless it’s written out for them.’
 
Dr Deed said it is also important that people with diabetes maintain their immunisations rather than delay them.
 
‘When you recall people for that, remind them about their interval care needs. It requires that one step further in being proactive,’ he said.
 
Dr Deed adds that another benefit of recalling patients – or calling them directly – is the ability to tackle the fears and anxieties circulating around the coronavirus.
 
‘You can give them precise reassuring information, rather than relying on media sources,’ he said. ‘It’s a real service to your patients and people really appreciate it.’
 
The RACGP fact sheet reflects detail from the forthcoming handbook on the management of Type 2 diabetes in general practice, which is expected to be released in the next two months.
 
In addition, the RACGP has released a fact sheet on managing diabetes during Ramadan, the month of fasting observed by Muslims, which begins on 23 April.
 
Ramadan can pose particular challenges for people with Type 1 diabetes due to the fasting requirement, while most people with Type 2 should be able to fast safely with appropriate medical advice and management. 
 
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