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The misdiagnosis of Type I diabetes can be fatal for patients

On Behalf of | Jan 5, 2018 | Failure To Diagnose / Misdiagnosis

Diabetes is a common condition in the United States. A combination of genetics, fairly sedentary lifestyles and easy access to rich foods with high carbohydrate and sugar contents makes it an easy condition to acquire — especially as people age.

The majority of diabetics have Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetics are not insulin-dependent. Instead, their bodies simply can’t use the insulin they produce efficiently, creating insulin resistance. Treatment can include medication that helps them properly use the insulin they have — and some can even control their condition through diet and exercise.

Misdiagnoses of diabetes types are increasing

Unfortunately, experts now say that many people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes are actually victims of Type 1. Health departments are warning the public that they are seeing a rise in Type I diabetes in both their local areas and nationally.

They’re also seeing many misdiagnoses. Patients who have the Type 1 version of diabetes are diagnosed with Type 2 instead. This is a serious problem because the two disorders need to be treated very differently.

A misdiagnosis of type can be serious or even fatal

Type 1 diabetics suffer from an autoimmune disorder that destroys their body’s insulin-releasing cells. Their pancreas stops producing insulin altogether and their bodies cease to absorb sugar — which is ultimately fatal if not treated. Type 1 diabetics must have insulin injections in order to survive.

Type 1 diabetics can also suffer rapid organ failure, especially of the kidneys, from improper treatment. That means that even if a Type 1 diabetic survives being misdiagnosed as a Type 2, he or she could end up needing a kidney transplant rather quickly.

Misdiagnoses may be due to preconceived notions

How is misdiagnosis possible? The root of the problem may be that some doctors simply see what they expect to see. They’re accustomed to the majority of their adult patients being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. They assume that is what their patient has.

They may fail to do appropriate diagnostic tests that can discern the difference. Doctors also forget that patients may grow accustomed to their own symptoms, like frequent thirst or hunger and spells of nausea and weakness. It’s the doctor’s responsibility to make the proper inquiries.

Anyone who suffers medical harm from a diabetes misdiagnosis should explore their legal options carefully in order to decide how to proceed.

Source:, “Health Department warns of rising Type 1 diabetes,” Eddie Garcia, Dec. 28, 2017