Screening for Type 2 diabetes in the accident and emergency department

Diabet Med. 2005 Dec;22(12):1766-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-5491.2005.01674.x.


Aim: To assess the proportion of patients, aged 40 years and over, attending an inner city accident and emergency department that have Type 2 diabetes, and the proportion previously undiagnosed, and to assess whether the identification of undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes is feasible in this setting.

Methods: Five hundred unselected people participated. All completed a demographic questionnaire regarding risk factors for diabetes. In those without known diabetes, random capillary blood glucose (CBG) was measured. If this was greater than 7.0 mmol/l, patients were asked to return for two fasting blood glucose tests. Diagnosis of diabetes was based on World Health Organization criteria.

Results: Of the 500 participating subjects, 73 were already known to have Type 2 diabetes. Of the remaining 427 subjects, 36 had CBG>7.0 mmol/l. All 36 returned for fasting blood tests: 13 fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for Type 2 diabetes, eight for impaired fasting glucose (IFG), and 15 had normal fasting glucose values. The prevalence of Type 2 diabetes was therefore 17.2%, including 2.6% with a new diagnosis, and 14.6% with pre-existing disease; 1.6% were found to have IFG. Body mass index was greater in those with Type 2 diabetes (previously and newly diagnosed) [27.1 (5.15) (mean+/-standard deviation)] vs. 25.8 (4.70) kg/m2; unpaired t-test P=0.0213), and those with Type 2 diabetes were more likely to be of black and minority ethnic origin (57 vs. 28%; chi2 P<0.001) and to have a first-degree family history of diabetes (45 vs. 23%; chi2 P<0.001).

Conclusions: It can be estimated from this survey that, annually, this case-finding methodology could identify 539 (95% CI 249-828) people aged 40 years and over attending our accident and emergency department with previously undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / analysis*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diagnosis*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Fasting / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • London
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Middle Aged


  • Blood Glucose