Professional judgment should rule when evaluating driving abilities of patients with diabetes

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Jan. 9, 2012

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State laws requiring physicians to report patients with diabetes who experience severe hypoglycemia to driver's licensing authorities undermine the physician-patient relationship and discourage patients from speaking frankly with their doctors, says an American Diabetes Assn. policy statement in the January Diabetes Care.

Nearly 19 million U.S. residents have diabetes, yet some safety advocates question whether the disease should be a factor in driver's license eligibility, the statement said (link).

At least 23 states ask driver's license applicants if they have diabetes, and most require a medical evaluation for those whose condition could cause altered perception or unconsciousness. Many states allow physicians to decide when to report a patient who may be a driving risk, but some have mandatory reporting laws.

The ability of diabetics to drive should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Physicians should be able to exercise professional judgment in deciding whether to report a patient for review of driving privileges, the association said.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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