The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Diabetes: Diagnosis, Laboratory Testing, and the Current American Diabetes Association Guidelines. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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The Laboratory's Role in Diagnosis and Monitoring of Diabetes

Even though most diabetics, physician offices, clinics, nursing homes, and nursing units use glucose meters for monitoring glucose levels, the laboratory's role in diagnosis is vital. The function of the laboratory is crucial in diagnosis, monitoring, and management of diabetes.

Diabetic patients can go into severe metabolic imbalances that are life threatening. As previously discussed, these metabolic conditions include: diabetic ketoacidosis, hyperosmolar nonketotic coma, and hypoglycemia. Laboratory testing is essential in diagnosing and monitoring these conditions.

Laboratory blood glucose and Hb A1C levels are used to demonstrate the level of hyperglycemia required for diagnosis. If an OGTT is needed for classification or characterization of hyperglycemia, a patient is sent to a hospital or clinical laboratory for the test. Detection of elevated microalbumin levels that can signal early stages of renal impairment is accomplished through laboratory testing.

There are many other disease states and complications associated with diabetes. Clinical laboratories are instrumental in detecting these diseases and monitoring the complications that result. Important among these assays are urea, creatinine, and serum lipids. If a diabetic does have a pancreatic transplant, serum C-peptide and insulin levels help to monitor transplant success and viability of transplanted organ.