“Most hospitals have electronic medical records, so the IT department should be involved in having a set of orders to facilitate care,” he says.
National guidelines regarding the management of hyperglycemia in inpatients set goals and explain how to achieve them. “But they are not granular enough to simply implement,” says Paul M. Szumita, PharmD, BCPS, clinical pharmacy practice manager director at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “Goal glucose targets change slightly from organization to organization and from year to year, but how to achieve them hasn’t changed much in the past decade.”
To implement the recommendations from national guidelines, institutions must create guidelines and order sets to operationalize the guidelines on a local level.
“When general guidelines and order sets have been created, vetted, implemented, and assessed for efficacy and safety, then there is typically a need to create additional guidelines and order sets to capture practices not supported by the general guidelines [e.g. insulin pumps, patient self-management, peri-procedural, DKA],” Dr. Szumita says. “This approach typically requires a team of dedicated, multidisciplinary, physical champions to create, implement, assess, and refine.”
Hospitalists should be aware of recently revised guidelines for ICU and non-ICU settings. The ADA and American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists recommend using a target blood glucose between 140-180 mg/dl for most patients in the ICU and a lower range, between 110-140, for cardiovascular surgery patients. The Society of Critical Care Medicine, however, recommends a target blood glucose of less than 150 mg/dl for ICU patients.
“Both guidelines recommend careful monitoring to prevent hypoglycemia,” Dr. Umpierrez says.
In the non-ICU setting, the ADA and the Endocrine Society recommend maintaining a pre-meal blood glucose of less than 140 mg/dl and a random blood glucose of less than 180 mg/dl.1
“We provide a lot of education regarding timing and clinical assessment of the value. If a value seems like an outlier, nurses should question whether it’s an erroneous sample and if they should repeat the test or if there is a clinical scenario to explain the outlier, such as recent snack or interruption in tube feeds.”—Kristen Kulasa, MD, assistant clinical professor of medicine and director of inpatient glycemic control, division of endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism, University of California San Diego
A variety of challenges can occur in the treatment of inpatient diabetics. Here’s a look at some of the more common ones, as well as some suggested solutions.
Coordinating tasks of the care team. Ensuring that glucose levels remain acceptable at all times is perhaps the biggest challenge that involves multiple staff. “You need to coordinate the food tray’s arrival time, obtain pre-meal fingersticks, assess how much the patient eats, and administer insulin accordingly,” Dr. Kulasa says.
To ensure a smooth process, she emphasizes the importance of communication and suggests as much standardization as possible.
“Standardization will help give nurses an idea of when to expect the meal tray and, therefore, when they should obtain their point of care blood glucose test and administer the nutritional and correctional insulin,” Dr. Kulasa says. “This way they can plan their workflow accordingly.”
Listen to Dr. Kulasa explain how hospitalists can work with nutritionists and dieticians to attain glycemic control.
The University of New Mexico has found success in having nurses control every step of the process. “A nurse takes a capillary blood glucose (CBG) reading, draws up the insulin, and then delivers the meal tray,” Dr. Rogers says.
Nurses only deliver diabetic trays, which are color coded. “But other facilities, and even floors within our own hospital, have found this to be controversial because nurses don’t feel that they should be responsible for checking CBGs or delivering trays.” Perhaps adding a second person to perform steps one and three would be more acceptable to other institutions.