Many diabetes patients overtested and overtreated, Mayo study says

Updated: Dec. 9, 10:50 a.m. | Posted: Dec. 8, 6:05 p.m.

Many Type 2 diabetes patients are being overtested and overtreated, according to a new finding from Mayo Clinic researchers.

Their study, published Wednesday in the BMJ medical journal, found that six out of 10 patients who don't require insulin have their average blood sugar levels checked far more frequently than guidelines recommend, a practice that can lead to potentially harmful, excessive treatments.

The findings only apply to diabetes patients who have well-controlled blood sugar levels and no complications.

Most clinical guidelines for these patients recommend testing hemoglobin A1C, , which shows a patient's average blood sugar levels over a three-month period, once or twice per year.

Lead researcher Dr. Rozalina McCoy said the over-testing led to over-treatment, which can be harmful.

"Nine percent had their treatment intensified even further. And that was surprising and alarming," she said.

The Mayo scientists' findings are based on an analysis of medical records of more than 31,000 U.S. adults with Type 2 diabetes, which is linked to being overweight.

McCoy said the findings should inspire patients always to ask if a test is really needed.

"I hope that the message here is that more is not necessarily better and in some situations more can actually be worse for the patient and the health care system," she said.

Editor's note (Dec. 9, 2015): The story has been updated to clarify the study's findings.

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