Initial management of septic patients with hyperglycemia in the noncritical care inpatient setting

Am J Med. 2012 Jul;125(7):670-8. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2012.03.001. Epub 2012 May 19.


Background: Previous research on the management of hyperglycemia in patients with sepsis has focused primarily on those with established organ failure in the critical care setting. The impact of hyperglycemia and glycemic control in patients with infection before developing severe sepsis or shock remains undefined.

Methods: This observational, prospective, cohort study investigated the relationship between initial 72-hour time-weighted mean glucose concentrations and in-hospital mortality, intensive care unit transfer, and hospital length of stay in a cohort of patients with an acute infection who were admitted from the emergency department to a non-intensive care unit hospital ward. We used multivariate regression models adjusted for age, diabetes, and disease severity.

Results: A total of 1849 patients were included, of whom 29% had diabetes. In the 1310 nondiabetic patients, we observed hyperglycemia using time-weighted glucose concentrations: 121 to 150 mg/dL (n=204, 16%), 151 to 180 mg/dL (n=32, 2.4%), and greater than 180 mg/dL (n=21, 1.6%). Insulin treatment was infrequent in nondiabetic patients, with 9%, 13%, and 29% of nondiabetic patients in these ranges receiving insulin, respectively. As patient glucose values increased, in-hospital mortality increased in nondiabetic patients, with odds ratios (ORs) of 4.4 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.8-11), 10.0 (95% CI, 2.5-40), and 9.3 (95% CI, 1.9-44.0). Conversely, hyperglycemia did not confer an increased risk of adverse outcomes in diabetic patients. Likewise, increased risk for unplanned intensive care unit admission from the floor demonstrated ORs of 2.2 (95% CI, 1.1-4.3), 2.0 (95% CI, 0.45-8.9), and 6.3 (95% CI, 1.9-20.6) in nondiabetic patients, whereas no increased risk was found in diabetic patients.

Conclusions: In this cohort of acutely infected patients without established severe sepsis or shock, higher glucose concentrations within the first 72 hours in the nondiabetic population were associated with worse hospital outcomes and were less likely to be treated with insulin compared with diabetic patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blood Glucose*
  • Boston / epidemiology
  • Critical Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Diabetes Complications / blood
  • Diabetes Complications / mortality*
  • Female
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / complications
  • Hyperglycemia / drug therapy
  • Hyperglycemia / mortality*
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Insulin / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sepsis / blood*
  • Sepsis / mortality


  • Blood Glucose
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin