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Management of incidental hyperglycaemia in acute medical emergencies


Roy Taylor, Professor of Medicine and Metabolism, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4LP, UK. E-mail:


Aims  To assess whether compliance with management guidelines for hyperglycaemia in acute medical emergencies was affected by prior diagnosis of diabetes, and to assess the effect of an educational campaign upon management.

Methods  Prospective study of management of adult patients admitted to an acute medical admissions unit in 2002, with repeat in 2003 after an educational campaign.

Results  The management of 251 patients in 2002 and 357 patients in 2003 was examined. In patients with no prior diagnosis of diabetes, unsatisfactory management was observed in 60% compared with only 30% of those with known diabetes (P < 0.02). In 2003 these proportions fell to 46 and 16%, respectively, but remained significantly different (P < 0.02). Overall, 30 of 70 (42.9%) patients with hyperglycaemia were managed strictly according to the guidelines in 2002 compared with 33 out of 59 (55.9%) in 2003 (P = 0.14). Satisfactory management was delivered in 55.7% in 2002 and 78% in 2003 (P < 0.01).

Conclusions  The reluctance of doctors to manage incidental hyperglycaemia in acute medical admissions was especially common when the patient was not known to have diabetes. This was only modestly improved by an educational campaign, even though this group are known to have a greater response in terms of morbidity and mortality. Widespread debate of this issue is required to minimize morbidity and mortality due to hyperglycaemia.