Objective: Some of the deleterious effects of hypoglycemia in hospitalized patients include increased rates of mortality and longer length of stay. Our primary objective was to identify the risk factors associated with severe hypoglycemia to identify those patients at highest risk.
Methods: The medical records of 5,026 patients with diabetes mellitus (DM) admitted in 2010 were reviewed to identify those patients that developed severe hypoglycemia (blood glucose [BG] <40 mg/dL). We performed χ2 tests to assess statistical significance. Adjusted logical regression was used to determine the risk factors for hypoglycemia in the hospital.
Results: Out of 5,026 DM patients included in our review, 81 experienced severe hypoglycemia (1.6%). Statistically higher proportions of chronic kidney disease (CKD; 69.1% vs. 46.9%, P<.001), congestive heart failure (CHF; 48.1% vs. 28.5%, P<.001), sepsis (49.4% vs. 12.5%, P<.001), insulin use (45.7% vs. 26.04%, P = .000), type 1 DM (21% vs. 5.1%, P = .000), and cirrhosis (14.8% vs. 7.2%, P = .009) were seen in the severe hypoglycemic group compared to the nonsevere hypoglycemic group. Overall, 84% of patients who experienced an episode of severe hypoglycemia in the hospital (BG <40 mg/dL) had a previous episode of hypoglycemia (BG <70 mg/dL). The odds ratios (ORs) for type 1 DM, sepsis, previous hypoglycemia, and insulin use were 3.43 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.81, 6.49), 2.64 (95% CI 1.6, 4.35), 46.1 (95% CI 24.76, 85.74), and 1.66 (95% CI 1.02, 2.69), respectively.
Conclusion: Prior episodes of hypoglycemia in the hospital, the presence of type 1 DM, insulin use, and sepsis were identified as independent risk factors for the development of severe hypoglycemia in the hospital.