labor nurse has been reborn and shares her experiences as a new nurse-midwife, woman, and blogger

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Non-Diabetic Diabetic

I admitted a woman for a labor induction at 39 and a half weeks. This was her first baby, and I had the opportunity to review her prenatal record before her arrival. It was one of those lucky days on the unit where things could occur at a leisurely pace. I found a curious piece of information that was quite vague. Her “problem list” reported “glucose intolerance”. Her one hour glucose loading test was 142. Anything 140 or greater requires a follow up glucose challenge test. This was done as well, and 2 of the 4 values were elevated. Not borderline…. Clearly above the normal limits.

But no where on her record was Gestational Diabetes.

Her visit notes reported that she was checking her blood sugars at home with fair results. Diet and exercise were not cutting it, and so in the last two weeks she was started on an insulin sliding scale.

Now, call me what you will, but isn’t this diabetes? Unfortunately her doctor was not available to question when I was initially reviewing this information. Perhaps the words GESTATIONAL DIABETES just didn’t make it on paper.

Getting back to the patient…I escort her to her labor room and begin to discuss what to expect. I tell her that I have lots of questions for her, some that will seem repetitive, but I needed to make sure we had all the correct information.

She’s as pleasant as can be and answers everything I ask. I then said, “Well, it looks like you have gestational diabetes, correct?”

“No, I don’t.”

“I read in your prenatal records that you were checking your sugars at home and recently started insulin.”

“Yes, that’s true.”

“My understanding is that this is gestational diabetes,” I begin cautiously. I’m treading into some choppy waters here. Clearly something isn’t connecting, and I’m confident enough to believe it’s not me. Did her doctor never tell her she had diabetes? How was the blood sugar checking and insulin explained? Was this woman’s head in the sand?

“No, Dr. X said I have glucose intolerance, not diabetes.”

“Ok.” I look at her for a moment to gather whether I am missing something here. “So how come you are being induced today?”

“Because my doctor is afraid my baby is too big.”

Uck! My next favorite reason. But that’s a different story.

Once Dr. X is on the unit and has seen her patient, I ask about the blood sugars. “Did I miss a new criteria for gestational diabetes diagnosis?”

Dr. X looks at me funny. “What?”

“Well your induction patient down there seems to have it, but nothing in her record actually states it and she claims that it’s ‘glucose intolerance’”.

Dr X didn’t answer for a minute. “Well, technically it is glucose intolerance.”

Technically, I wasn’t buying this, as my understanding of the diagnosis of glucose intolerance is not used in pregnant women. I pointed out her glucose tests were clear cut for gestational diabetes. And then flippantly I asked, “What? You didn’t want to offend her?”

“That’s right.”

Well, now. It left me speechless.


Jess B said...

Are ya friggin' kidding me? I sure hope my doc is more upfront with me than this one. Zoiks!

tofu lou said...

WTF? even I coulda caught that one. offend her? and when did being diabetic become taboo?

Joyce said...

Hard to believe there is a doctor out there who doesn't speak his mind! Most tell you like it is!

geena said...

How would that have offended her?? I had GD during my pregnancy. Didn't offend me any.


AtYourCervix said...

Oy vey! Darn doctors. Just makes me wanna smack 'em.

The Nurse said...

Yeah, I had a "glucose intolerant" patient last night. Her "10 pound baby" had a BS of 11, then 4 at birth, and is now on IV D10 and getting blood sugars every hour with amp et gent.


Boliath said...

Bizarre - what on earth is offensive about GD?

Lil said...

hehe they made me do the first test but I refused the second and home-tested with a finger prick after all my meals. I actually found that my blood sugar preferred to live in the *70's* and that I had to eat more starches and sugars to *keep it up* and not feel like crap. So I was eating mashed potato and chocolate pudding and sucking on jolly ranchers to keep my blood sugars up.

The first test made me soooo sick and my baby stopped moving for almost 24 hours So no way in hell was I going to do the 2nd test.

Despite never having odd sugar numbers, they treated me like I was GD when I went into labor, simply because I had refused the 2nd test.


Dawn said...

Offend her? ?? ? ?

Geez, I've been offended three freakin times now LOL

I think I'm gonna sue.


pixelrn said...

I had GD too. Annoyed? Yes. Offended? No.

alisaterry said...

I don't even know what to say to this. When is lying to patients acceptable?