People with diabetes could be questioned about their driving habits as part of their medication review, under proposals contained in a report by the Transport Research Laboratory.
The report, ‘The forgotten risk of driving with hypoglycaemia in type 2 diabetes’, published on 22 October 2014, suggests that GPs ought to ask patients with type 2 diabetes whether they drive for work purposes in order to optimise their diabetes medicines to reduce the risk of hypoglycaemia while driving.
According to the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency, there are around 45 serious events a month and five fatal crashes a year involving hypoglycaemia. The true figure is likely to be much higher.
The TRL report, which was funded by Merck Sharp & Dohme, includes findings from research – involving 1,500 patients with type 2 diabetes – that shows just 27% of patients had spoken to their doctor about hypoglycaemia and driving.
“Patients with type 2 diabetes who experience hypoglycaemic episodes are very hesitant about speaking with the doctor, because they worry this will automatically lead to a review of their driving licence and a potential loss of livelihood,” said Srikanth Bellary, clinical director of Heartlands Diabetes Team at the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, in a statement.
“In actual fact, the risk of hypoglycaemia can be reduced taking simple precautions before driving or using alternative medicines available.”