Managing Blood Sugar in Hospitals

New protocol reduces infection rates in critically ill patients

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WEDNESDAY, June 18, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Duke University Medical Center doctors and nurses have developed an improved protocol to manage high blood sugar levels in critically ill hospital patients.

That's the finding of a study presented June 14 at the 63rd Scientific Session of the American Diabetes Association in New Orleans.

People in hospitals often require intravenous insulin to quickly reduce high blood sugar levels. Previous studies found a link between high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) and higher infection rates in hospital patients.

The Duke researchers say strictly managed blood sugar levels can help reduce infection rates in hospital patients.

"Under the old protocol, we measured patients' blood sugar every hour, and nurse determined how much insulin to give based on the current blood sugar level alone," study lead author Dr. Lillian Lien says in a news release.

"Our protocol is different because, in addition to the current blood sugar level, we also consider the blood sugar reading from the previous hour and the current insulin dosage. Those three factors allow us to be more efficient in determining an insulin dose that will quickly and safely reduce the patient's blood sugar to the desired level," Lien says.

In their study, the Duke researchers tested the new protocol on 28 patients. They found the new protocol reduced cases of two types of common errors by about a third. The errors include improper discontinuation of intravenous insulin treatment and failure to reduce consistently high blood sugar levels.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about hyperglycemia.

SOURCE: Duke University Medical Center, news release, June 14, 2003
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