Improper Insulin Monitoring Can Lead to Fatal Accidents
Source: O`Reilly Collins Press Release


SAN MATEO, Calif., July 23 /PRNewswire/ - One of the worst case scenarios that can happen to a diabetic is if he or she falls into a hypoglycemic coma. This is caused by a severe deficiency in glucose levels found in the blood which causes the brain to seek other energy sources at the same time shutting down other important body functions. If treatment is delayed or neglected by the diabetic person, such a coma can cause not only loss of consciousness but also irreversible brain damage and death.

An even worse case situation occurs if a diabetic falls into a hypoglycemic coma while driving, loses consciousness and kills an innocent bystander.

Such a scenario happened when a driver of a PG&E truck fell into a hypoglycemic coma, kept on driving instead of stopping and came off a freeway exit ramp at such an excessive speed that his truck became airborne. He struck the vehicle of a 20-year old woman who had stopped for a red light. The victim`s vehicle caught fire and the woman and her friend burned to death.

The driver of the truck was a type 2 diabetic with a long history of failing to manage his diabetes properly. Just prior to the accident, the driver twice injected himself with insulin. Then he drove off in his truck without testing his sugar level. The incredibly high insulin dose caused his glucose level to drop precipitously. It was a disaster waiting to happen and it happened.

O`Reilly Collins, the law firm that represented the woman`s family, won a substantial judgment. However, that wasn`t the issue — avoidable deaths were. Terry O`Reilly, speaking for his firm noted, "This was a very tragic occurrence that never should have happened. First, PG&E only required a valid driver`s license and proof of insurance — the company made no DMV check and there was no inquiry into the driver`s medical history. No one at PG&E knew that the driver had a severe diabetic condition or that he was badly mismanaging his disease."

This person, like other diabetics, not only had to take insulin, but just as importantly, also had to closely monitor his glucose levels and insulin intake. A coma can happen as part of insulin shock, when a large amount of insulin medication is injected compared with the actual dose required. When the ensuing blood sugar levels drop quickly, cells can absorb all available glucose leaving none for the brain, resulting in brain cell starvation and then a quickly oncoming coma.

"We have been involved in representing plaintiffs in many wrongful death cases," said O`Reilly, but this was one of the saddest we`ve seen. It should serve as a painful reminder that diabetics have to take responsibility for exactly monitoring their disease for their health and the safety of others. Diabetes affects many people in the United States with over 1.6 million new cases reported every year. It is the seventh leading cause of death. Events such as this tragic car accident are not isolated occurrences."

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Originally posted by DiabetesCare.net on July 27, 2010.