NEW ORLEANS — Careful planning can help reduce exacerbations of chronic conditions, including diabetes, in the event of a man-made or natural disaster, according to presenters here.
Teaching about disaster preparedness should be a routine part of diabetes self-management education, said Pamela Allweiss, MD, MPH, of the CDC, Division of Diabetes Translation.
Disasters can create conditions that lead to rapid deterioration in the health of people with diabetes, Allweiss said.
“Even though the emergency preparedness world traditionally has been very different from the chronic disease management world, things are getting better,” Allweiss told Endocrine Today. “The issue of preparing people with diabetes is on the radar screen of both groups, so CDEs can be a great source of education to people who work in emergency preparedness, a group that CDEs have not usually worked with.”
Relief organizations have not historically considered people with chronic diseases to be particularly vulnerable during disasters, but this population should be noted, Allweiss said.
Lessons learned from disasters over the past decade, such as Hurricane Katrina, can inform emergency preparations for disaster relief groups and for individuals. For example, blood glucose control tends to worsen when people with diabetes lose their daily routine. Shelters often lack clean water and fresh food — high-carbohydrate meals are common. More cases of gangrene and diabetic ketoacidosis are also encountered in shelters.
However, the most serious disruption, according to Allweiss, is lack of access to diabetes supplies and medications.
Allweiss and Kathleen M. Kissane, ARNP, MSN, CDE, an adult nurse practitioner in Frederick, Md., urge diabetes educators to counsel their patients to pack a disaster kit to be used in the event of an emergency. Kissane listed items that patients should include:
- emergency contact information, both local and out-of-town contacts;
- insurance information and copy of any insurance cards;
- a list of medical providers;
- copies of all prescriptions and a medications list, including known allergies;
- several days’ supply of insulin and other diabetes medications; and
- medical equipment needs, such as syringes, insulin pump supplies and glucometers.
“One of the biggest lessons learned from [Hurricane] Katrina is that there is a need for preplanning for disasters,” Kissane said. “Disaster volunteers should be better trained to recognize and handle diabetes issues. As a diabetes educator, it is very important to review disaster plans with your clients.” – by Jill Rollet
Allweiss P, Kissane KM. W16. Presented at: The American Association of Diabetes Educators Annual Meeting 2015; August 5-8, 2015; New Orleans.
Allweiss and Kissane report no relevant financial disclosures.