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By Gary Evans, AHC Media Senior Staff Writer
Diabetes in healthcare workers is a major driver of medical insurance costs, as the chronic blood sugar disorder can set off a range of health problems and increase risk of stroke and heart disease.
Diabetes is a primary cause of kidney failure, and can inflict nerve damage that effects vision and leads to foot ulcers and problems in other extremities. However, the disease can be managed through interventions like diet and exercise, which can also prevent “pre-diabetes” – early signs of blood sugar and insulin problems -- from progressing to a chronic condition.
“We have a lot of people who are not pre-diabetic anymore because they adopted healthier wellness habits, have been exercising, and have gone to a lot of our classes on eating,” says JoAnn Shea, ARNP, MS, COHN-S, director of employee health and wellness at Tampa General Hospital (TGH). “We have had a lot of success with both our prediabetic populations and with our diabetics.”
Review of medical claims at the hospital indicated that diabetes was the highest-cost chronic disease in covered employees and spouses. Biometric data reviewed by Shea and colleagues found that 26% of TGH employees had pre-diabetes and about 7% had developed full-blown diabetes. Thus, healthcare workers have blood sugar and insulin disorders in much the same range as the general population. Nationally, an estimated 29 million people or 9.3% of the U.S. population have diabetes and 8 million people are undiagnosed.
“We are actually in line with the state stats on diabetes,” Shea says. “In Florida it’s around 9% and we are probably around 7% now. Pre-diabetes averages about 26% to 28% so we are right in line with the CDC age-adjusted statistics.”
For more on this story see the November 2016 issue of Hospital Employee Health