Insulin infusion protocols for critically ill patients: a highlight of differences and similarities

Endocr Pract. Mar-Apr 2007;13(2):137-46. doi: 10.4158/EP.13.2.137.


Objective: To discuss the major differences and similarities among the currently published insulin infusion protocols (IIPs) for critically ill patients.

Methods: IIPs were identified by searching MEDLINE, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials. The reference lists for all retrieved protocols were also reviewed to identify any IIPs that were not surfaced with use of our initial search strategies. The major differences and similarities among the IIPs were identified and examined. In addition, strategies for successful implementation of IIPs were outlined.

Results: Our search strategies retrieved 17 IIPs. Currently, no published studies have compared one insulin protocol with another. The major differences or similarities among the published IIPs were in the following areas: patient characteristics, target glucose level, time to achieve target glucose level, incidence of hypoglycemia, rationale for adjusting the rates of insulin infusion, and methods of blood glucose measurements. Because of variations in the definition of hypoglycemia, methods of blood glucose measurement, and types of blood samples used, some comparisons across the protocols were difficult. Use of a multidisciplinary team and gaining administrative support are crucial for addressing issues and provision of necessary resources for implementing a protocol for "tight" glycemic control in critically ill patients.

Conclusion: Clinicians should evaluate the type of patients in their critical care units, the mean baseline glucose levels, and the available resources to determine the most appropriate and practical IIP for their institution.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Controlled Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Critical Illness / therapy*
  • Databases, Bibliographic
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemia / drug therapy
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Insulin / administration & dosage
  • Insulin / therapeutic use*
  • Insulin Infusion Systems*


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin