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Diabetes and Endocrinology

If any of the following are present or suspected, please refer the patient to the emergency department (via ambulance if necessary) or follow local emergency care protocols or seek emergent medical advice if in a remote region.

Adult conditions

Pancreatic disease

  • Diabetic ketoacidosis  - A
  • Diabetes and severe vomiting -A
  • Acute severe hyperglycaemia
  • Acute severe hypoglycaemia -A
  • Hyperosmolar hyperglycaemic state (HHS) -A
  • Newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes –B (call registrar or consultant on call)
  • Foot ulcer with infection and systemically unwell or febrile -A
  • Invasive infection or rapidly spreading cellulitis of the foot (defined by peripheral redness around the wound >2cm) -A
  • Acute foot ischaemia -A
  • Wet gangrene foot -A

Urgent cases – (refer to key below)
A – client to present to emergency department immediately
B – client to present to diabetes specialist service within 24 hours.  If no specialist service is available, present to an emergency department.

High Risk Foot

  • Foot ulcer with infection and systemically unwell or febrile
  • Invasive infection or rapidly spreading cellulitis (defined by peripheral redness around the wound >2cm)
  • Acute ischaemia
  • Wet gangrene
  • Acute or suspected Charcot

Thyroid disorders

  • Hyperthyroidism complicated by cardiac, respiratory compromise or other indications of severe illness (fever, vomiting, labile blood pressure, altered mental state)
  • Neutropenic sepsis in patient taking carbimazole or propylthiouracil
  • Hyperthyroidism with hypokalaemia or paralysis
  • Suspected myxoedema coma (altered consciousness, hypothermia, fluid overload, bradycardia, hyponatraemia)
  • Stridor associated with a thyroid mass
  • Possible tracheal or superior vena cava obstruction from retrosternal thyroid enlargement

Adrenal disease

  • Addisonian crisis
  • Suspected or confirmed acute adrenal insufficiency
  • Phaeochromocytoma in crisis with uncontrolled hypertension

Pituitary disorders

  • All patients with visual field loss (usually temporal and classically bitemporal superior quadrantinopia/hemianopia)
  • Pituitary tumour with severe headache
  • Pituitary tumour with evidence of symptomatic cortisol insufficiency
  • Hyperprolactinaemia with visual impairment or other neurological signs

Oligo/amenorrhoea, hirsutism, acne, female infertility

  • Signs in the central nervous system that could indicate a pituitary tumour (visual field defect headaches)

Calcium, electrolyte and metabolic bone disorders

  • Acutely symptomatic hypocalcaemia (e.g. tetany) with serum calcium <2.0mmol/L
  • Severe symptomatic hypercalcaemia (usually serum calcium > 3.0 mmol/l)
  • Hypernatraemia or hyponatraemia with acute confusion/delirium
  • Suspected or confirmed diabetes insipidus with hypernatraemia

Paediatric Conditions

Paediatric diabetes

  • New diagnosis of type 1 diabetes = polyuria and/or polydipsia and random BSL >11.0.
  • Ketoacidosis in a known diabetic with any of the following
    • systemic symptoms (fever, lethargy) or
    • vomiting or
    • inability to eat (even if not vomiting) or
    • abdominal pain or
    • headache

Growth failure

  • Suspected pituitary mass (visual field loss/CNS signs)
  • Addisonian crisis (including unexplained hyponatraemia & hypoglycaemia)
  • Myxoedema coma
  • New onset diabetes insipidus (including unexplained hypernatraemia)
  • Hypocalcaemia (including acute rickets) with seizures


The following are not routinely provided in a public Diabetes and Endocrinology service.

  • Pre-diabetes
  • Stable, well-controlled type 2 diabetes
  • Newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes and not acutely unwell
  • Referrals where the primary problem requiring attention is not directly related to the diabetes and should be directed to another speciality service e.g. chest pain for investigation should go to cardiology
  • Dietary advice for weight reduction, high cholesterol, hypertension or CVD in patients with diabetes
  • Newly diagnosed primary hypothyroidism, including subclinical hypothyroidism – Note: in women of child bearing age who are pregnant or wishing to become pregnant or not using contraception, thyroxine should be commenced and titrated, aiming for a TSH less than 2.5
  • Positive thyroid antibodies with normal thyroid function
  • Osteopaenia
  • Routine uncomplicated osteoporosis