Background: For patients with diabetes, the quality of outpatient glycemic control is readily assessed by hemoglobin A1c. In contrast, standardized measures for assessing the quality of blood glucose (BG) management in hospitalized patients are lacking. Because of recent studies demonstrating the benefits of strict glycemic control in critically ill patients, hospitals nationwide are dedicating resources to address this important issue. To facilitate advances in this nascent field, standardized metrics for inpatient glycemic control should be developed and validated.
Methods: We used 1 month of fingerstick BG levels from a general hospital ward to develop and test three analytic models, based on three units of inpatient BG analysis: population (i.e., ward), patient-day, and patient. To assess the effect of the source of blood samples, we repeated these analyses after adding venous plasma glucose levels. Finally, we employed an idealized intensive care unit data set to establish "gold standard" metrics for inpatient glycemic control.
Results: Mean and median BG levels and the proportion of BG levels within an "optimal" range (80-139 mg/dL) were similar among the three models, whereas hypoglycemic and hyperglycemic event rates varied considerably. Inclusion of venous glucose levels did not substantially affect the results. Of the three models tested, the patient-day model appears to most faithfully reflect the quality of inpatient glycemic control. Achieving 85% of BG levels within optimal range may be considered gold standard.
Conclusions: If validated elsewhere, these "glucometrics" would permit objective comparisons of inpatient glycemic control among hospitals and patient care units, and would allow institutions to gauge the success of their quality improvement initiatives.