BY RANDY DOTINGA
SAN DIEGO – Bedside continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) with a wireless hookup to a response team allowed doctors and nurses to gain better blood sugar control in hospitalized high-risk patients with diabetes, according to research reported at the annual scientific sessions of the American Diabetes Association.
“Continuous glucose monitoring and wireless connections can be useful in the hospital setting, not just in the outpatient setting,” said Maria Isabel Garcia, RN, of Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute. “They help us to prevent problems rather than fixing them after they happen.”
Normally, nurses at Scripps Mercy Hospital in Chula Vista, Calif., measure the glucose of hospitalized patients four times a day through finger sticks. But this makes it difficult to closely monitor significant swings in glucose levels, especially after patients are treated with insulin, she said in an interview.
Research suggests that complications due to dangerous blood sugar levels can lead to longer hospital stays, she noted.
For the study, researchers assigned 45 high-risk hospitalized patients with type 2 diabetes to be monitored by DexCom G4 CGM devices. The patients were being treated for a variety of conditions, and all were expected to be hospitalized for more than 2 days.
Researchers housed the normal-sized CGM devices in toolbox-sized containers at bedside. “We don’t want the equipment to get misplaced if the patient has to go from room to room or if the patient is discharged and takes the equipment by mistake,” Ms. Garcia said.
The patients were 43-82 years old (median, 61.4 years; standard deviation, 9.8), 56% male, 73% Hispanic (with 60% preferring to speak Spanish). The mean hemoglobin A1c was 10.2% (SD, 2.3), and the mean body mass index was 32.9 (SD, 8).
The patients were randomized to two groups. In both, the CGM devices were operative and tracked blood sugar levels. In one group, the information was transmitted via wireless hookup to a team of researchers (during the day) or a telemetry team (at night), who were alerted via alarms if blood sugar levels seemed too high or low. The teams would then alert nurses who’d confirm the levels via bedside testing and take appropriate action.
CGM data were gathered from the patients for an average of 4.2 days each (SD, 2.49; range 2-10), and the number of readings per patient ranged from 102 to 2,334 each (median 859.4; SD, 627.8).
The findings suggest that wireless transmission of CGM allowed hospital staff to improve blood sugar control. Readings under 70 mg/dL occurred 0.7% of the time in patients monitored via wireless hookup and 1.4% in the others. Readings over 250 mg/dL appeared 9.8% and 13.2% of the time, respectively and readings over 300 mg/dL appeared 2.6% and 5.1% of the time, respectively.
The investigators plan to recruit 460 patients for the study, Ms. Garcia said. Results may be available within a couple of years, she said.
DexCom provided the CGM devices for the study, which was funded by Diabetes Research Connection and the Confidence Foundation. Ms. Garcia reports no disclosures.
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