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The Important Role of Family Doctors in Diabetes Management and Treatment

The Important Role of Family Doctors in Diabetes Management and Treatment

  By: Editors at DiabetesIQ  |  Published: April 18, 2021   
Published: April 18, 2021   

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Family doctors play an important role in managing their patients’ diabetes, ensuring that all members of each of their patients’ healthcare team are informed and up-to-date on the progress. When you are diagnosed with diabetes, you typically get access to a healthcare team that may include multiple doctors because diabetes affects different parts of the body. These healthcare professionals may include a podiatrist, who you will be seeing annually to check your feet and legs, an ophthalmologist to take care of your eyes, and a cardiologist to make sure that your diabetes does not negatively affect your heart.

However, the doctor you will be seeing most often when managing type I or type II diabetes is your family doctor. This doctor is actually in charge of your care and treatment and is the link that connects all the other doctors who manage your condition.

Sometimes, family doctors specialize in diabetes themselves, which means that you probably see them a lot. If your family doctor is not an expert in diabetes, they will refer you for specialist diabetes care. Nevertheless, they will continue to monitor your progress and make sure that everyone on your healthcare team is up-to-date with any changes.

 

Why is it important to have a family doctor involved in your diabetes management? 

Studies have shown that diabetes patients who do not have a consistent primary care physician or family doctor have worse outcomes than those who do. According to research published in Diabetes Care, primary care physicians offer better care to patients who are diagnosed with diabetes when compared to other providers.

The reason behind this is that family doctors are more likely to provide lifestyle counselling in a consistent manner and alter the medications when patients report that something does not work well for them. Moreover, diabetes patients, who have a family doctor, have a higher number of patient encounters when compared to those who do not.

Your family doctor is highly likely to be the first who recognizes the initial signs of diabetes and require further investigations. Besides instigating an initial course of treatment, family doctors also review the progress and incorporate any lifestyle changes the patient might need.

Finally, it is the family doctor's job to ensure that any referrals made to other healthcare professionals and external bodies are timely and appropriate. This is essential for making sure that patients have access to the care they need, not just when it comes to managing their blood sugar levels, but also for all the related appointments that they may need with podiatrists or ophthalmologists to manage their condition properly.

 

What should you expect when visiting your family doctor for diabetes management?

When seeing your family doctor about diabetes for the first time, it is always a good idea to prepare for the consultation. Start by keeping a journal for at least a week before your appointment in order to be able to have a record of any symptoms that you're experiencing, whether they are related to diabetes or not.

Your family doctor might need a blood glucose test, so it is essential to ask for clear instructions because you may need to be fasting before the test. Your family doctor is your first port of call when it comes to any important questions you may have about how to manage your diabetes, especially when you are first diagnosed. In the vast majority of cases, patients should be able to get all the clarifications they need regarding diabetes and its various complications from their family doctor.

Sometimes, it is not always necessary to see a specialist for diabetes. Many people who live with type II diabetes can manage their blood sugar levels on their own or just with the help of their family doctor. However, if complications arise that may require specialist help, it is crucial to see your family doctor as soon as possible, so they can refer you to the right specialist.

Family doctors do all they can to assist patients in the treatment of diabetes, but there are times when a specialist's opinion is needed. Patients may need to see a specialist when regular treatment options are no longer effective, they have difficulty finding the right insulin levels, new symptoms occur, or they wish to participate in case studies or experimental research. Family doctors are the ones who help making educated decisions in such situations.

 

Bottom line

Having a trusted family doctor is essential for managing and treating diabetes properly. Most patients, who live with type I or type II diabetes, do not require specialist help because they can manage their condition only with the help of their primary care physician. From the initial diagnosis to prescribing and adjusting the treatment, family doctors are often capable to provide the full range of care a person with diabetes needs. However, if a patient’s condition requires, family doctors have expertise to refer their patients to the right specialists and ensure the proper care is being provided.


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