Debate on Insulin vs Non-insulin Use in the Hospital Setting-Is It Time to Revise the Guidelines for the Management of Inpatient Diabetes?

Curr Diab Rep. 2019 Jul 29;19(9):65. doi: 10.1007/s11892-019-1184-8.


Purpose of review: Hyperglycemia contributes to a significant increase in morbidity, mortality, and healthcare costs in the hospital. Professional associations recommend insulin as the mainstay of diabetes therapy in the inpatient setting. The standard of care basal-bolus insulin regimen is a labor-intensive approach associated with a significant risk of iatrogenic hypoglycemia. This review summarizes recent evidence from observational studies and clinical trials suggesting that not all patients require treatment with complex insulin regimens.

Recent findings: Evidence from clinical trials shows that incretin-based agents are effective in appropriately selected hospitalized patients and may be a safe alternative to complicated insulin regimens. Observational studies also show that older agents (i.e., metformin and sulfonylureas) are commonly used in the hospital, but there are few carefully designed studies addressing their efficacy. Therapy with dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors, alone or in combination with basal insulin, may effectively control glucose levels in patients with mild to moderate hyperglycemia. Further studies with glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor analogs and older oral agents are needed to confirm their safety in the hospital.

Keywords: DPP-4 inhibitors; Diabetes; Hospitalized patients; Incretin; Inpatient; Insulin.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Dipeptidyl-Peptidase IV Inhibitors / administration & dosage
  • Dipeptidyl-Peptidase IV Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / drug therapy*
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Injections, Subcutaneous
  • Insulin / administration & dosage
  • Insulin / therapeutic use*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic / standards


  • Dipeptidyl-Peptidase IV Inhibitors
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin