This site is intended for health professionals only

Electronic records "could help identify 60,000 with undiagnosed diabetes"

Researchers who examined blood test records in a survey of more than 3.6 million patient records held by UK GP surgeries have found thousands of cases of probable undiagnosed diabetes.

This could help identify tens of thousands of people with undiagnosed diabetes in UK, the researchers argue in the latest issue of the British Journal of General Practice.

The researchers surveyed the electronic patient records in 480 GP surgeries across the UK, which contribute anonymised electronic health record data to the QRESEARCH database in Nottingham for research purposes.

The research team looked for biochemical evidence of undiagnosed diabetes recorded in blood glucose measurements. They first eliminated known patients with diabetes, and cases where raised blood glucose was found but diabetes had already been ruled out as a cause by further tests.

They found this still left nearly 4,000 patients whose last blood glucose level was indicative of undiagnosed diabetes, and more than 32,000 patients whose last level was at best borderline, leaving many of them at significant risk of diabetes and requiring further assessment.

Lead author Dr Tim Holt, from the University of Warwick's Warwick Medical School, said: "If the same survey was extended to all UK GP surgeries, we estimate that 60,000 people would be identified with evidence of undiagnosed diabetes.

"In addition, more than half a million people nationally would require further tests to rule out diabetes. The study demonstrates the power of information technology to assist practice teams in the early detection of diabetes."

As a result of this research, software has been installed into the majority of UK practices to assist practice staff in identifying possible cases during routine care. This involves screen alert messages and regularly updated lists.

The researchers call on all GPs to use the software to improve the early detection of diabetes in the UK.
British Journal of General Practice