Nearly 11% of older diabetes patients are overtreated

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Older diabetes patients with low blood sugar levels are being overtreated, a study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine shows.

The research team studied records from 78,792 Medicare participants in ten states, all of whom had diabetes.

The study shows almost 11 percent of the patients had very low blood sugar levels, which suggests they were being over-treated. However, only 14 percent of these patients had a reduction in blood sugar medication refills in the next six months.

The following factors indicated patients were most likely to be overtreated:

●    Over the age of 75 years
●    Qualifying for both Medicare and Medicaid because of low incomes or serious disability

The following factors indicated patients were less likely to be overtreated:

●    Living in urban areas
●    Of Hispanic origin

Researchers also examined prescription refills among those whose blood sugar levels were well below recommended levels, as represented by the HbA1c measure. Around 10.9 percent of all study participants were being overtreated to the point of an ultra-low A1c level, but only 6.9 percent were being undertreated and had A1c levels over nine, which is considered very high.

The authors suggest providers avoid using a one-size-fits-all approach when treating older diabetes patients.

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