Ombudsman to investigate whether government monitoring of hypoglycemic drivers is protecting public
March 20, 2012
20 March, 2012
TORONTO (March 20, 2012) – The Ombudsman is investigating whether the Ministry of Transportation's monitoring of drivers with uncontrolled hypoglycemia is adequately protecting the public.
TORONTO (March 20, 2012) – Ontario Ombudsman André Marin today announced an investigation into how the province monitors drivers with uncontrolled hypoglycemia who may be a danger on the roads.
The case of Allan Maki, who was in diabetic shock when he caused a crash that killed three people in Hamilton in 2009, raises serious questions about the Ministry of Transportation’s process of obtaining information about drivers with uncontrolled hypoglycemia and taking action when warranted, Mr. Marin said. Family members of the accident victims brought the case forward to the Ombudsman.
Mr. Maki was found guilty of dangerous driving in December 2011. However, it took the Ministry almost two years after the crash to suspend his licence, even after his case was flagged by police and a physician. Like other provinces, Ontario requires medical professionals to report drivers who have uncontrolled hypoglycemia to the Ministry so they can be assessed. “Our review of the Maki case and the Ministry’s processes raised serious concerns,” Mr. Marin said. “I am launching this investigation because this is a potentially systemic problem that could affect the safety of everyone who uses our roads.”
There are approximately 1 million people with diabetes in Ontario. According to some studies, up to 25% of those being treated with insulin could potentially experience hypoglycemic unawareness – the inability to recognize the warning signs of low blood sugar and potential impairment. “Although most drivers who have diabetes are perfectly safe, the condition of uncontrolled hypoglycemia was deemed serious enough that Ontario and other provinces made it a reportable condition,” Mr. Marin said. “But if that requirement doesn’t result in appropriate action by the Ministry, it is meaningless. Our investigation will determine whether processes in place are adequate to protect public safety.”
Mr. Marin asked that anyone who has had experience with the issue to contact his office at 1-800-263-1830 or via www.ombudsman.on.ca. The investigation will be conducted by the Special Ombudsman Response Team and is expected to take about six months.
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