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Diabetes patients reaping the benefits from changes in care

Patients are at less risk of potentially dangerous events and have an improved chance of better outcomes thanks to improvements in diabetes care.

Hypoglycaemia – where a patient’s blood glucose level becomes too low – is a real and common risk for people with diabetes. However the inpatient diabetes management package implemented in November 2017 has seen hypoglycaemic events drop by 26 percent in under two years.

“Around a quarter of our hospital patients have diabetes – and a single hypoglycaemic event can have a huge impact on their health,” said diabetes inpatient nurse and project lead Miranda Walker.

“One hypoglycaemic event can extend a patient’s hospital stay by more than two days because it slows their recovery and makes them more susceptible to further illness. The end result is a sicker patient who will likely take longer to recover, and a more expensive hospital stay.”

The inpatient diabetes management package was introduced to improve results and reduce harm for patients with diabetes. It included changes and improved guidance around prescribing, use and monitoring of insulin – including when a patient is fasting for surgery or procedures.

“By reducing the number of hypoglycaemic events by 26 percent, we’re ensuring patients aren’t having to stay in hospital longer than they initially need to – which has also saved the DHB around $250,000 in costs for increased hospital stays.”

The diabetes team will now review the impact the practice changes have had on the number of hyperglycaemic events – where a patient’s blood glucose becomes too high – and expects to see a similar reduction.

“The improvement we’re seeing in hypoglycaemia management in hospital is testament to how well all our health professionals responded to the need to change practice to improve patient outcomes.

“Diabetes is so common that every doctor, nurse, dietician and pharmacist working with patients had to change how they did things once the changes were implemented – and it’s really paying off for our diabetes patients.”

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