Hospitals Are Dangerous Places for Diabetics, Part 1

This was actually something I thought about writing about a couple months ago then got sidetracked.  I just read something else this week that reminded me of this subject and thought I would write about it now.  As you can guess from the “Part 1,” this is a multiple part story!

For those of you that read the TuDiabetes message board, you probably read about Missy.  Reading Missy’s story is what originally gave me the idea to write about this – it has happened to me and I am sure many others. Missy was in the hospital for brain surgery.  Missy is Type 1 and uses a pump.  Besides being diabetic, she is also deaf.  The doctor managing her medical care decided that she was a Type 2 and stopped her insulin and put her on Metforim.   Apparently, you are not supposed to have an MRI while on Metforim. Guess what, Missy had an MRI.

When I was admitted to the hospital for my foot in September, 2005, my insulin was withheld from me.  My blood sugar was high and I think I did nothing but complain to the nurses that I needed insulin.  It was almost lunch time until I had any insulin at all and I had gone to the ER about dinner time the day before.  After being in the hospital for 2 or 3 days, they had an endo come in to talk to me.  After we were talking for a little bit, he said, “I think you are Type 1.”  I said I have been Type 1 since 1984 and there was no question about it.  He then informed me that it was all thru the charts that I was Type 2.  I guess because I had gained some weight from being off my foot that it was OK to “assume” that I was Type 2. 

The following February, I was taken by ambulance to a different hospital, but part of the same hospital system.  I had been really sick and my blood sugar was up.  I took some Humalog insulin before the EMTs came because I was planning on trying to get my BS down and then eating. Several hours later, I had a low in the ER.  It was not even that low, it was in the 60s.  I was admitted to the hospital that night and taken up to a room about midnight.  I normally took my Lantus before going to bed.  I was informed that because my BS had been low in the ER, the doctor did not want me to have Lantus.  Any “idiot” should know that Lantus is a basal insulin and you need to take your basal insulin no matter what your blood sugar is.  By morning, my blood sugar was extremely high.  The doctor that withheld my insulin came strolling into my room and acted like it was my fault my blood sugar was high!  I let him know that my blood sugar was high because he withheld my insulin.

After going thru my foot ordeal, I have learned a lot and I will be demanding to be transferred to another hospital immediately if anyone ever decides to withhold my insulin again!  One of my “plus” reasons for a pump was because it is sometimes easier to be allowed to control your own diabetes in a hospital when you are a pump user.  I know that there is no guarantee that I will be allowed to continue to use it, but I do intend to fight for that right.  Whether I am using a pump or go back to MDI, I will never walk into a hospital again with having insulin with me. 

Prior to being admitted that September, I never thought that there would be a question as to what type of diabetic I am.  Now when I see a new doctor and fill out their forms, if they have a box that says “diabetic,” I make sure I write Type 1 next to that.  I also carry a medical history form with me and that also states Type 1.  I am thinking that I need to put a copy of my C-peptide test with that form as proof that I really am Type 1 in case some bozo decides to question that!

Part II to follow …
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4 thoughts on “Hospitals Are Dangerous Places for Diabetics, Part 1

  1. I had a diabetic coma last September, and wasn’t wearing my pump because the set came off, and I was too foggy to remember how to put on a new one. So after I woke up, I asked my nephew to bring my pump, but I didn’t have a set, so I asked the CDE to bring me one, but instead, she confiscated my pump AND my meter. I guess I wasn’t in good enough mental condition to actually use the pump, but I wasn’t consulted about anything.
    Then they transferred me to a convalescent center, where their idea of controlling diabetes was a sliding scale before each meal to correct high BGs, but nothing to cover what I would be eating. The first day I was there, I sat for THREE HOURS with a BG of 388 before they would correct it, and when I said I needed a correction sooner, they said the doctor didn’t order it.
    Well, it took me 2 days to find the doc, and when I got adamant with him, he agreed that they were to give me insulin before meals (but unfortunately a fixed 7 units every meal), and to test 2 hours after meals. That was a little better, but I never did get decent BGs for the 3 weeks I was there. Nor did I get good BGs on the Lantus + Novolog shots they sent me home with. I was never so happy as when I finally got in to see my new endo (I fired the old one for letting me slip into a coma — I saw him Monday with a lousy lab result, and he sent me home, and I went into the coma on the following Sunday), who put me back on the pump immediately. I’ve been following a reduced carb diet since, and finally seeing improved numbers. I never want to be in a hospital again!!

    • I remember reading part of this on TuDiabetes. I wondered if that was you when you mentioned the coma on the foot wound story! That is really scary. You would think that even if the doctor did not order it, they would call him with a BS of 388! When I was in the hospital in Pittsburgh, they called the doctor in the middle of the night one night because of problems with my BS – I can’t remember what it was doing that night, but the nurses at least knew they needed to call him. Prior to getting the pump, I was worried about someone trying to take it away and reading your story doesn’t help with that! They just don’t know how to manage BS and we are all so different and know the things that work better for us.

  2. OMG, that sounds like a horror!
    I don’t know how it works in American hospitals, but here in Europe when I go to the hospital, I just tell the doctors I have type 1 diabetes which I manage by myself and anything they want to change it has to go through me first.
    Couple months ago I was in hospital due to a car accident and after I found out the doctor does not even know the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, I told him I will be taking care of my diabetes myself while staying in the hospital. It wasn’t a piece of cake considering I wasn’t able to sit or walk but I would never let a doctor manage my diabetes if I wasn’t sure he was capable doing it…

    ps: I would not expect a doctor to know what a C-peptide test is when he does not know that Lantus is a long-acting insulin :-/

    I don’t really understand how it works in your hospitals – how can doctors withdraw an insulin pump from you? It’s like performing an amputation without consent 🙂 !!!

    • Sorry that it took so long to reply – this has been a hectic week! I hope that you are all healed up from your accident. A lot of hospitals here won’t allow you to take care of your own BS, although that is starting to change. That was one of the big reasons I wanted a pump because I will have a better chance. I like your analogy about the amputation without my consent and I plan to use that in the future if I need to! You are right, they probably would not know what the c-peptide means!

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