Safety and efficacy of an intensive insulin protocol in a burn-trauma intensive care unit

J Burn Care Res. Jan-Feb 2008;29(1):187-91. doi: 10.1097/BCR.0b013e318160d066.


Aggressive glycemic management in critically ill patients with acute burn injury or life-threatening soft-tissue infections has not been thoroughly evaluated. An intensive insulin protocol with target glucose values of less than 120 mg/dl was implemented in October 2005 in our regional Burn-Trauma intensive care unit. We reviewed our initial experience with this protocol to evaluate the safety and efficacy of aggressive glycemic control in these patient groups. Patients were placed on the intensive insulin protocol based upon the need for glycemic management during their hospitalization for burn or soft-tissue disease. Patient information prospectively collected while on protocol included all measured blood glucose values, total daily insulin use, and incidence of hypoglycemic episodes, defined as serum glucose <60 mg/dl. Thirty patients (17 burns, 13 soft-tissue infections) were placed on the intensive insulin protocol during the first 16 months of use. The mean daily blood glucose level for burn patients was 115.9 mg/dl and for soft-tissue disease patients was 119.5 mg/dl. There was a 5% incidence of hypoglycemic episodes per protocol day. All hypoglycemic episodes were treated by holding the insulin infusion, and no episode had known adverse effects. Hyperglycemia in critically ill patients with burns and extensive soft-tissue disease can be effectively managed with an insulin protocol that targets blood glucose values of less than 120 mg/dl with minimal incidence of hypoglycemia. A multicenter prospective randomized trial would provide the ideal forum for evaluating clinical outcome benefits of using an intensive insulin protocol.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Blood Glucose
  • Burn Units*
  • Burns / drug therapy*
  • Burns / mortality
  • Burns / therapy
  • Critical Illness
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemia / prevention & control*
  • Incidence
  • Insulin / administration & dosage
  • Insulin / adverse effects*
  • Insulin / therapeutic use
  • Intensive Care Units*
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Wounds and Injuries*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin