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Question:

From Bowling Green, Ohio, USA:

My daughter got diabetes at age 16. She was just killed in a car accident. She was 23 years old. That morning, her blood sugar was 22 mg/dl [1.2 mmol/L]. Three months earlier, my daughter was using an insulin pump. After she had a baby, the doctor took her off the pump and put her back on injections. Some say she appeared to be looking at them while slumped over the steering wheel, or in a coma.

Although she died at 1:30 p.m., an autopsy was not performed until the next day at 9 a.m. The reports say she died from the trauma of the accident and there were no indications of her diabetes. How can this be? If you have diabetes and take insulin daily, wouldn't her blood sugars show something? If her body shut down after death, would her blood sugar have returned to normal or remained what it was at the time of death? Could she have been in a coma when the accident occurred? I am just trying to understand how the autopsy report can say my daughter did not have diabetes. No drugs or alcohol were found.

Answer:

I am so sorry for your loss. It is more than I could possibly imagine. I am sure you are getting at whether she had a severe hypoglycemic episode to cause her to be unable to operate her car. When the autopsy is that late, many times there is not enough information to collect to determine what the blood sugar was at the time of death. Sometimes the medical examiner will do a puncture of the eye to determine if the sugar was low. However, this is not always done. Measuring the sugar that far after her death would not help either. I would expect that she probably did die of the injuries she sustained from the crash, but that doesn't mean she wasn't low at the time of the crash. You should probably ask these questions directly to the pathologist who did the autopsy or their representative. They can tell you the limits of their examination.

JTL

DTQ-20040731005551
Original posting 4 Aug 2004
Posted to Other

  
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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:09:58
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