Inpatient staff urged to prevent hypos
A major diabetes charity is calling for healthcare professionals working in hospitals to be more aware of hypoglycaemia.
It comes after the latest National Diabetes Inpatient Audit has shown that one in five people with diabetes have a hypoglycaemia episode during their hospital stay.
The organisation is calling for healthcare professionals to be more aware of the signs and symptoms and to take relevant action before further complications develop, such as confusion, seizures and in extreme cases coma.
Professor Gerry Rayman, a clinical lead for Diabetes UK’s Improving Inpatient Care programme, said: “Although most people with diabetes can readily identify when their blood glucose levels are low, when they are in hospital certain situations such as severe illness, some medications, confusion and after anaesthesia their ability to detect hypoglycaemia may be impaired, increasing their risk of going into a hypoglycaemic coma.
“For this reason it is important for health care professionals to be aware of the signs and symptoms of hypoglycaemia and look out for them.”
The audit showed more than a quarter (27 per cent) of inpatients with type 1 diabetes had a severe hypo during a hospital stay, with the highest proportion (30 per cent) of episodes taking place between 05:00 and 08:59. It also found almost half (46 per cent) of people with diabetes treated with insulin had a medication error relating to their treatment, and four per cent of people with type 1 diabetes developed diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) after being under-treated with insulin.
Douglas Twenefour, deputy head of care at Diabetes UK, said: “Hypoglycaemia can be very serious if left untreated. It is vital healthcare professionals are aware of patients who are at risk of hypos, and put in place appropriate measures to support people with diabetes to prevent and treat them whilst in hospital or in a clinical setting.
“Too many hypos happen at night, which is completely unacceptable. Hospitals need to put in place practical ways to prevent these from happening, including making bedtime snacks available for appropriate patients with diabetes.”
Diabetes UK recommends every person with diabetes who is admitted to hospital undergoes an assessment and care plan prior to their stay and are supported so they can self-manage their condition where appropriate.