HbA1C Overtesting May Be Compromising Diabetes Care

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In U.S. cohort, more than 60% received too many HbA1c tests.
In U.S. cohort, more than 60% received too many HbA1c tests.

(HealthDay News) -- Many Americans with type 2 diabetes may be getting unnecessary tests -- and, in some cases, needless changes in medication, according to a study published online in The BMJ.

The study's findings are based on insurance claims made between 2001 and 2013 for 31,545 type 2 diabetes patients age 18 and older. All of the adults in the study had glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels that were consistently below 7% within the previous 2 years.

Nearly 55% underwent HbA1c tests 3 or 4 times per year. Another 6% had at least 5 tests per year. Frequent HbA1c tests were also associated with increased odds that patients would be started on additional medications to control their glucose levels.

"I think part of the problem is that we often think more testing is better," lead researcher Rozalina McCoy, M.D., a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., told HealthDay.


  1. McCoy RG, Van Houten HK, Ross JS, Montori VM, and Shah ND. HbA1c Overtesting and Overtreatment among US adults with Controlled Type 2 Diabetes, 2001-13. BMJ 2015; 351. doi:10.1136/bmj.h6138.
  2. Hayward RA. Excessive Testing of Adults with Type 2 Diabetes. BMJ 2015;351. doi: 10.1136/bmj.h6549.
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