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to think that a hospital nurse should have basic knowledge of Type 1 Diabetes?

(37 Posts)
EnchanciaAnthem Thu 04-Jun-15 17:26:29

I had to take DD (6) to A&E this morning for a matter which can be potentially serious in children with Type 1 Diabetes. We were sent by the GP.

During triage, I was explaining what had happened and why the diabetes affected it.

Triage Nurse - So, how is her diabetes managed? Just through diet.

Me - Um, no - she has Type 1 diabetes. She is on an insulin pump.

Triage Nurse - Oh - what is that?

<showed her DD's insulin pump which sends insulin via a cannula>

Triage Nurse - So can you not just control it by diet?

I obviously went on to explain everything, but AIBU to think that if you are a triage nurse in A&E you should have a good knowledge of diabetes - a potentially life threatening condition?! If we'd encountered that nurse when dealing with a complication from her diabetes, we could have been in trouble.

DD was in hospital a lot during winter (viruses and bugs can make her really ill) and the complete lack of knowledge from the nurses regarding diabetes was astounding. Two didn't even know what a hypo was (hypoglycemia).

mousmous Thu 04-Jun-15 17:28:31

have you noted her name and contacted pals?
hope your dd is better now.

EnchanciaAnthem Thu 04-Jun-15 17:32:17

I did note her name. I just wanted to see if I'm reasonable in complaining. We obviously rely on the NHS a lot and have endless respect for medical staff so I'm reluctant to complain but then again this lack of knowledge could be disastrous one day.

Thank you, the complications/ways diabetes causes trouble are relentless! She's doing okay now smile

OrlandoWoolf Thu 04-Jun-15 17:34:26

You can't control Type 1 by diet.

I think there's so much focus in Type 2 that people forget about Type 1.

But a health professional should know about the need for insulin and the concept of an insulin pump.

Edenviolet Thu 04-Jun-15 17:37:59


We have come across many nurses and doctors who simply don't have a clue and have had comments similar to the op.
The worst was in hospital just after diagnosis, Dds blood sugar was 1.9 and I was still unsure of what I was doing, I called the nurse who said " oh it's nearly dinner time I'll go and get the insulin and hurry up her food then she will be ok"

I said I thought she was wrong and gave her apple juice. It was only the next day after seeing a diabetes consultant I realised what had happened.

Hope your dd is feeling better OP

sparkysparkysparky Thu 04-Jun-15 17:38:10

Complain. That's the only way their employer will find out how rubbish they are. There are too many rubbish ones getting away with it. I have no specialist knowledge and even I know how wrong this nurse was.

PurpleSwift Thu 04-Jun-15 17:40:47

OH Is type 1 and we have been to A&E a couple of times due to complications and received similar treatment. I find it disappointing

BoreOfWhabylon Thu 04-Jun-15 17:42:22

If she was a triage nurse, as opposed to some sort of receptionist, then her knowledge is seriously lacking and she should not be performing triage duties.

Please do complain.

(Disclaimer: am senior triage nurse specialist)

textfan Thu 04-Jun-15 17:42:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

OrlandoWoolf Thu 04-Jun-15 17:43:38

I used to work in the labs doing blood tests. We were trained and qualified to give advice on levels.

But you'd assume that the medical staff knew the basics. Like glucose, electrolytes.

I know they can't know everything - and that's we were there for. To offer advice. But there is some stuff you'd expect them to understand. Like hypoglycaemia

EnchanciaAnthem Thu 04-Jun-15 17:44:01

Exactly Orlando - the confusion between Type 1 and Type 2 makes things unpleasant and tricky for us on a regular basis. We've even had people ask DD, when we've been out and they've seen her having her blood sugar done, 'Been eating too many sweets have we?' sad

Hedgehog I'm sorry that you're going through the same thing! It's bloody horrible sometimes isn't it and very scary. We too were in hospital once with DD and had ran out of hypo supplies as we'd been there for days - asked for orange juice to treat a 2.2 and got 'Doesn't she need sugar free, with her being diabetic?' hmm

Thank you Sparky - I think you're right!

ChablisTyrant Thu 04-Jun-15 17:44:27

Do complain. This isn't specialist knowledge. Most intelligent lay people know this sort of stuff.

EnchanciaAnthem Thu 04-Jun-15 17:46:11

Thanks everybody. I will definitely make a complaint then.

Sorry to everybody else who has to deal with poorly understood conditions!

Bore she was definitely a triage nurse. I could barely believe her lack of knowledge. sad

itsmeitscathy Thu 04-Jun-15 17:46:30

YANBU - there's no excuse.

Madsometimes Thu 04-Jun-15 17:46:43

YANBU. I would expect most lay people to understand the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. I am not quite sure how a nurse could pass the exams to qualify and not undersand that these common conditions are distinct. I know that nurses cannot be expected to know all details of rare conditions.

Many type 1 adults get frustrated by HCP's and others not understanding their condition because most adults with diabetes are type 2. But it's really rare for a 6 year old to be type 2. I'm not medically qualified and I know the difference. I think she needs extra training.

DoctorDonnaNoble Thu 04-Jun-15 17:47:40

Do complain. No excuse for a healthcare practitioner to not know the difference between type 1 and 2.

londonrach Thu 04-Jun-15 17:48:31

Shocked and i say that as an ahp in the nhs. Nurse needs to do some cpd on diabetes.

PausingFlatly Thu 04-Jun-15 17:50:19

You're not complaining, you're being very helpful by indicating a topic for continuing professional development. wink

sparkysparkysparky Thu 04-Jun-15 17:56:15

I m afraid "endless respect " is no longer the approach to take with health care professionals. We trust because we are worried. But check if something doesn’t seem right. And don't feel bad about complaining.

Klayden Thu 04-Jun-15 18:05:41

You are really not being unreasonable. I am a lay person and even I have basic knowledge about the difference between the two types and the general treatments.

expatinscotland Thu 04-Jun-15 18:13:06

Please complain through PALS. I could write a book on ignorance among some HCPs when my daughter was going through cancer treatment.

LaLyra Thu 04-Jun-15 18:37:03

Please do complain. That level of lack of knowledge in a nurse is scary.

The lack of understanding in some medical professionals about the difference between type 1 and type 2 is horrid. My DH had a torrid time in hospital for an operation a few years ago when some staff there decided to 'manage' his diabetes (that he's had for 15+ years) by diet and it took him calling PALS before the "I'm Type 1" that he was telling him, and was in his medical records, finally sunk in. They saw a slightly overweight man and assumed. Ignoring everything else.

expatinscotland Thu 04-Jun-15 18:41:52

'My DH had a torrid time in hospital for an operation a few years ago when some staff there decided to 'manage' his diabetes (that he's had for 15+ years) by diet and it took him calling PALS before the "I'm Type 1" that he was telling him,'

My FIL has run into this. One time, he was up for an op, told them about his Type I diabetes, his pump, his cons at the diabetes clinic had been in touch, about the danger of fasting him too long, and he was left. Until he rang the diabetes clinic at 5pm.

Worryingly, some don't seem to understand that there are Type 2 diabetics who cannot be managed by diet alone. They must inject insulin as well.

MrsPeterQuill Thu 04-Jun-15 18:43:49


One of my DCs is Type 1 and we've had similar experiences in A&E. It's a shame because the actual paediatric diabetes dept in the same hospital is excellent. At the very least, you would expect A&E nurses to have a basic understanding of T1- and yet they don't. I don't think you would be unreasonable to complain. I'm not sure what they would do (if anything) to rectify it though.

SconeForAStroll Thu 04-Jun-15 18:43:55

My ds (9) is type 1 so I can totally empathise. Do make a complaint - I have come to accept that lay people assume that an injection of insulin is the cure for a hypo (it isn't - it could kill him) but that lack of knowledge for a hcp is shocking.

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