Aims: To ascertain the effect of routine review by a diabetes nurse advisor on length of stay for medical and surgical inpatients with diabetes.
Methods: Inpatients with diabetes were identified prospectively from January 1997 until December 1998 (792 in 1997 and 819 in 1998). A new post of diabetes nurse advisor was introduced in January 1998 to optimize diabetes management. Length of stay was calculated retrospectively from hospital computer records.
Results: Median length of stay in 1997 was 11 days in medicine and 8 days in surgery. In 1998, the nurse advisor made 1936 visits to 819 patients; median length of stay fell to 8 days in medicine and 5 days in surgery (P < 0.001). Bed occupancy by patients with diabetes fell from 6.8 to 4.0%. Mean length of stay across the hospital remained unchanged.
Conclusions: The introduction of a ward-based diabetes nurse advisor was associated with significant reductions in length of stay in inpatients with diabetes. Since this study was not a randomized study, other factors may have contributed to this change. However, the consistency of the reduction across specialities suggests the post itself had an important effect.