New York City To Monitor Diabetic Residents’ Blood Sugar Levels
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene beginning on Sunday will require laboratories to provide information on blood sugar levels for people with diabetes within 24 hours of testing, the Washington Post reports. New York City will be the first government in the U.S. to require data on routine testing for a major chronic, noninfectious disease in order to study the quality and effectiveness of treatment.
All 120 medical testing laboratories in the city with the ability to transmit data electronically will be required to provide results of the A1c test, which diabetics undergo at least once annually in order to receive a long-term assessment of how well their condition is being controlled. Health officials will use the information to monitor quality of care and determine which parts of the city are most affected by diabetes.
The department also will try out a program in the South Bronx that will alert doctors about patients whose blood sugar levels are not well controlled and offer advice.
"Because New York is often a leader in public health measures, the decision is likely to prompt other jurisdictions to follow," some experts have said, the Post reports.
While the plan "is being hailed by many health experts as a bold attempt to improve care for diabetes," some "public health experts, ethicists and privacy advocates ... say that the initiative raises serious concerns about confidentiality and is an alarming government intrusion into people's medical care," the Post reports.
Richard Kahn, chief scientific and medical officer for the American Diabetes Association, said, "We greatly support the idea of helping people with diabetes better manage their disease. We also are concerned with information about a person's individual medical condition becoming publicly known."
Diana Berger, head of the Diabetes Prevention and Control Program for the city's health department, said, "The department of health has a 100-year history of collecting and protecting highly sensitive data. The privacy issues being raised pale in comparison to the public health benefit" (Stein, Washington Post, 1/11).