Author Insights: Overtreatment of Diabetes in Elderly Patients Remains Underrecognized

news@JAMA

Patrick O'Malley, MD, MPH of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Maryland, speaks about overtreatment of diabetes among elderly patients. Patrick O’Malley, MD, MPH of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Maryland, speaks about the overtreatment of diabetes among elderly patients.

The primary goal of treatment for diabetes, as for many chronic conditions, is to lower rates of death and complications from the disease. But an equally important goal in medicine, one recognized over 2 millennia ago, is to “do no harm,” and sometimes this balance between help and harm can be difficult to accomplish.

In this week’s issue of JAMA, a theme issue on diabetes, a viewpoint discusses the overtreatment of diabetes in certain patient populations—that is, the overuse blood sugar–lowering medications to the point at which average blood sugar levels may be too low and cause more harm than benefit. The authors refer back to a study published about 6 months ago in JAMA Internal Medicine, in which researchers looked at administrative data…

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