Journals to stick with familiar HbA1c units

Academic journals will keep reporting HbA1c results for diabetes patients in the familiar percentage units after these stopped being used in June.

From June, the results of HbA1c tests will only be presented in mmol/mol units
From June, the results of HbA1c tests will only be presented in mmol/mol units

From June, the results of HbA1c tests will only be presented in mmol/mol units, which were introduced in 2009. Since the new units were launched, there has been ‘dual reporting’ of both units, but this is now due to end.

However, Diabetes UK’s journal Diabetic Medicine will continue using both units beyond June.
Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, has yet to start using the new units. After June, it will be using both the new and old units.

An extension of ‘dual reporting’ period to allow patients and clinicians to get used to the new units has been proposed by leading diabetes GPs (GP, 4 March 2011).

Other clinicians have also raised concerns about familiarity with the new units within the diabetes community.

Jill Hill, a diabetes nurse consultant at Birmingham East and North PCT, said that many clinicians were still working in ‘old money’. But extending would be ‘prolonging the agony’, she believes.

Dr Allan Struthers, professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Dundee, said: ‘The real problem is non-diabetologist hospital physicians who have patients with diabetes but have not taken on board the new units.’

Professor Eric Kilpatrick, a consultant in chemical pathology at Hull Royal Infirmary, said dual reporting may have been unnecessary. ‘I was all in favour of the dual reporting period,’ he said.

‘But I must admit that most people, including myself, have still just concentrated on the old units without really getting to grips with the new ones. This might just continue if the move to solely mmol/mol was postponed.’

Helen Hollern, diabetes specialist nurse facilitator for Cambridgeshire Community Services said the change in target figures would be confusing for patients and clinicians. Patients in her area will continue to be given their results in both units for the rest of the year, she said.

‘As long as health professionals explain clearly the new and old results I think that patients will slowly understand the changes,’ she said. ‘It will not happen overnight and will be up to the health professionals to make the changes as smooth as possible for their patients.’

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