Changes in gestational diabetes testing

Research Area
One of the many changes in health care practices at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH), accelerated by COVID-19, was testing for gestational diabetes.

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is diagnosed following a fasting oral glucose tolerance test requiring pregnant women to sit for 2-3 hours in a pathology laboratory. The emergence of COVID-19 severely impacted this option.

During planning for the pandemic, RBWH researchers were able to mesh local data with urgent healthcare priorities, to spearhead GDM screening and diagnosis changes. The new algorithm minimised the risk of virus exposure for these women, and subsequently reduced the burden on the health system.

The change was regarded as so practical, sensible and evidence based, that it was incorporated into the Queensland Clinical Guidelines. These guidelines also went ‘viral’ and at the request of clinicians around Australia were adopted by the Australasian Diabetes in Pregnancy Society.

These changes have been to the benefit of every pregnant woman in Australia and have the potential to permanently alter the course of GDM screening on a global scale.

This project will use data linkage and qualitative methods to assess the impact of these changes to see if this screening model could be adopted permanently.

Dr Susan de Jersey
Clinician Research Fellow
Metro North Hospital and Health Service

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