A massive three million people have diagnosed diabetes in the UK and it is estimated another 850,000 have the condition, but don’t know it. These figures are increasing every year and are expected to rise to 3.8 million sufferers by 2020.
People with diabetes have too much glucose in their blood because the body cannot use it properly. This is because their pancreas does not produce any insulin or not enough to help the glucose enter the body’s cells and sometimes,the insulin produced does not work properly (known as insulin resistance).
There are two main types of diabetes:-
Type one diabetes
This usually develops early in life and is the most common type of diabetes in children. It occurs when the body is unable to produce insulin and is treated with insulin injections or by using a pump. About 15% of people with diabetes have this strain
Type two diabetes
This is the most widespread form of the condition and usually develops later in life. It can be managed through diet and physical activity alone, or by combining these with tablets. Insulin treatment may be required later in life.
Although diabetes is common, it is still very serious. With proper treatment and medication it can be handled successfully and effectively, but unfortunately, problems can arise with diabetes management and there are a high number of avoidable deaths every year.
There are specific complications associated with diabetes that have a significant impact if not treated promptly or efficiently, including:
- Peripheral Neuropathy: Over time, high blood sugar levels can cause damage to the nerves (neuropathy), leaving a loss of sensation. It is estimated that around one in five people with diabetes has diabetic polyneuropathy, which can lead to further complications such as:
- Charcot Foot: The motor nerves, responsible for movement, can become damaged and as a result, the muscles in the foot may no longer be able to support the joint properly. Due to a lack of pain perception, minor injuries, such as sprains, go unnoticed and can progress rapidly to the point where the joint becomes dislocated and misaligned, leading to further swelling. Bony overgrowths (osteophytes) can also develop. All this can lead to severe deformity of the foot.
- Amputations: People with diabetes are up to 15 times more likely to have a major amputation than those without the condition. You should receive a foot and leg check as part of an annual healthcare review.
- Diabetic Retinopathy: This is damage to the retina (the seeing part at the back of the eye) and is a complication that can affect anyone with diabetes. Retinopathy is the most common cause of blindness among people of working age in the UK.
- Kidney Failure (Nephropathy): Kidney disease can happen to anyone, but it is much more common in diabetes sufferers and people with high blood pressure. When connected to diabetes, it develops very slowly and is most often seen in those who have had the condition for more than 20 years.
- Diabetic Ketoacidosis: When you have consistently high blood glucose levels, the body begins to use stores of fat as an alternative source of energy and this, in turn, produces an acidic by-product known as ketones. Ketones are very harmful and the body will immediately try to excrete them in urine, which may cause nausea, vomiting and dehydration. High levels of glucose and ketones can also lead to a coma.
- Cardiovascular Disease (CVD): People with diabetes are five times more likely to develop CVD than those without the condition. Prolonged, poorly controlled blood glucose levels affect the lining of the body's arterial walls and can increase the likelihood that the vessels will fur up, forming a narrowing (atherosclerosis).
Complications arising from poor diabetes management can be very serious. However, at any of the intermediate stages, all the above conditions can be treated and the damage usually limited. The earlier a problem is diagnosed or warning signs appear, the earlier it can be monitored. Diabetes sufferers should receive:
- Regular eye checks
- Regular kidney function checks
- Regular foot checks
- Regular blood glucose checks
- Regular cholesterol checks
Sometimes a condition is misdiagnosed or simply missed because diabetic complications are not considered. As a result, Taylor&Emmet acts for a number of clients suffering from diabetes related conditions that were not monitored correctly or did not receive effective treatment.
Diabetes mismanagement causes permanent brain injury
We obtained supportive independent expert evidence which prompted Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to admit failures in care when treating our client (a gentleman in his 60s). They accepted failures in respect of:-
- Referring to the Diabetes Inpatient Specialist Nurses following his initial hypoglycaemic event
- Treating hypoglycaemic episodes according to Protocol
- Performing adequate blood glucose monitoring and ensuring that the patient was offered a snack
Unfortunately, as a result of the failures, our client went into a hypoglycaemic coma. He suffered from an acquired brain injury and a profound personality change which was understandably distressing for his family. His mobility was more restricted and he became aggressive, angry and frustrated, which was hugely different to his personality before with his family describing him as a funny, loving and engaging man. After approximately 2 years he died from an unrelated illness and his widow pursued a case which was subsequently settled for £57,500.
What happens next?
If you are concerned about how your diabetes is managed or monitored, or feel you have suffered from an avoidable complication, our friendly, knowledgeable solicitors are happy to help. We can also provide advice on how to take your matter further if you have suffered complications due to delays in diagnosis or treatment of diabetes.
You can claim compensation for the following if they are a result of your injury:
- Pain, suffering and loss of amenity
- Medical and nursing care costs
- Loss of earnings
- The cost of painkillers
- Travel expenses
- Any costs involved in adapting your home
Please contact our expert team in total confidence and at no obligation. We will do our utmost to help.