Inpatient management of hyperglycemia: the Northwestern experience

Endocr Pract. Sep-Oct 2006;12(5):491-505. doi: 10.4158/EP.12.5.491.


Objective: To describe a novel method of safe and effective intensive management of inpatient hyperglycemia with use of cost-effective protocols directed by a glucose management service (GMS).

Methods: An intravenous insulin protocol was designed to achieve a glycemic target of 80 to 110 mg/dL. When stable inpatients were transferred from the intravenous protocol to a subcutaneous insulin protocol, which consisted of basal long-acting and prandial and supplemental rapid-acting insulins, the blood glucose target was 80 to 150 mg/dL. Glucose levels were reviewed by the GMS at least daily for protocol adjustments, when necessary.

Results: The intravenous insulin protocol was used in 276 patients, and 4,058 capillary blood glucose levels were recorded. Glycemic target levels (80 to 110 mg/dL) were achieved, on average, 10.6 +/- 5.2 hours after initiation of insulin drip therapy. The mean capillary blood glucose level during the study interval was 135.3 +/- 49.9 mg/dL. Hypoglycemia (< or = 60 mg/dL) was recorded in 1.5% of glucose values, and hyperglycemia (> or = 400 mg/dL) was recorded in only 0.06%. The subcutaneous insulin protocol was used in 922 patients, and 18,067 capillary glucose levels were documented. The mean blood glucose level was 145.6 +/- 55.8 mg/dL during the study period. The blood glucose target of 80 to 150 mg/dL was achieved in 58.6%, whereas 74.3% of glycemic values were in the clinically acceptable range (80 to 180 mg/dL). Hypoglycemia (< or = 60 mg/dL) occurred in 1.3% of capillary blood glucose values, and hyperglycemia (> or = 400 mg/dL) occurred in 0.4% of values.

Conclusion: Validated protocols dedicated to the achievement of strict glycemic goals were implemented by a GMS and resulted in substantial improvements in glycemic control on the surgical inpatient services, with a reduced frequency of hypoglycemia. The protocols and the GMS have been well received by the inpatient nursing and surgical staff members, and all of this has been done in a cost-effective manner.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Algorithms
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Chicago / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Complications / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / drug therapy*
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Injections, Subcutaneous
  • Inpatients / statistics & numerical data*
  • Insulin / administration & dosage*
  • Insulin / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Management Service Organizations
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin