Insulin management of diabetic patients on general medical and surgical floors

Endocr Pract. Jul-Aug 2006;12 Suppl 3:86-90. doi: 10.4158/EP.12.S3.86.


Objective: To review the standardized subcutaneous insulin protocols for diabetic patients on general medical and surgical floors at the University of Vermont.

Method: Insulin protocols were developed for inpatients eating regular meals, and those receiving continuous tube feedings or total parental nutrition.

Results: The recommended starting subcutaneous insulin protocol for patients receiving meals is a basal-bolus approach using 0.5 U/kg basal insulin (glargine once daily, or neutral protamine Hagedorn [NPH] twice daily) and 0.1 U/kg rapid analog at each meal (lispro, aspart, or glulisine) for the average patient. The dose of basal is lowered by 0.2 U/kg for medical conditions with a high sensitivity to insulin or that have an added risk for hypoglycemia (renal or hepatic impairment, thin or normal weight, elderly, frail, hypothyroidism, adrenal insuffi ciency, etc.). Alternatively, an extra 0.2 U/kg basal is given for states of presumed high insulin resistance such as marked obesity with metabolic syndrome, open wounds, infections, etc. In turn, patients receiving continuous tube feedings receive the same 24-hour insulin doses (0.6-1.0 U/kg) in divided doses of premixed 70/30 (NPH/regular) insulin every 8 hours. This program allows lowering or eliminating 1 of the doses for the increasingly common tube-feeding programs in rehabilitation centers or patients' homes that entail discontinuation of tube feeding for 6 to 8 hours. A variation on this approach is used with total parenteral nutrition (TPN), with a portion of the insulin placed in the TPN bag and the remainder given as "q 8 hour 70/30" insulin. Starting insulin doses for all of the programs are adjusted daily to attain inpatient blood glucose goals of <110 mg/dL fasting and 110 to 180 mg/dL throughout the day.

Conclusion: Standardized protocols have been developed and implemented at the University of Vermont for patients receiving regular meals and continuous tube feedings or TPN.

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus / drug therapy*
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Injections, Subcutaneous
  • Insulin / administration & dosage
  • Insulin / therapeutic use*
  • Patient Care / methods
  • Perioperative Care / methods
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Vermont


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin