Third of diabetic patients are victims of medication errors that can cause dangerous blood glucose l
Third of diabetic patients are victims of medication errors that can cause dangerous blood glucose l

Almost one in three diabetic hospital patients are victims of medication errors that can cause dangerous blood glucose levels a report has found
Hospitals in England and Wales made at least one mistake per inpatient in the treatment of 3700 diabetes sufferers in one week data showed
During this period the affected patients succumbed to more than double the number of severe hypoglycaemic or hypo episodes that patients without errors suffered according to the National Diabetes Inpatient Audit
Hypos occur when blood glucose levels drop dangerously low and if left untreated can lead to seizures coma or death
Diabetes UK said the findings were an indictment of how hospitals were failing to care for people with diabetes
Chief executive Barbara Young said The fact that there are so many mistakes and that for some people a stay in hospital means they get worse should simply not be happening
Poor blood glucose management caused by errors in hospital treatment is leading to severe and dangerous consequences for too many people
Although we know that some excellent steps have been taken including courses and online tools to increase knowledge and education among healthcare staff for the treatment of people with diabetes on hospital wards we are not seeing good enough results from this yet
The fact that the situation has barely improved in the last year shows that the NHS is not yet taking this seriously enough
Urgent action is needed to make sure that general ward staff are competent and confident about treating inpatients with diabetes
Almost a third 306 of patients who responded to a patient experience questionnaire said they had not been able to take control of their own diabetes while in hospital as much as they would have liked to
More than 13 of patients said the hospital did not provide the right type of food to manage their diabetes
Almost 10 of inpatients with diabetes had been on an insulin infusion in the past seven days of the audit period but the healthcare professionals collecting the data suggested that 10 of these patients were inappropriately given the infusions
Specialist staffing levels were lower than recommended
In addition 68 patients developed diabetic ketoacidosis DKA during their stay in hospital
DKA occurs when blood glucose levels are consistently high and can be fatal if not treated
This suggests that insulin treatment was not administered for a significant period of time the report said
According to the findings 32 of patients 3430 experienced at least one medication error in the previous seven days of their hospital stay
This was a small improvement on the previous year when the figure was 366 or 4120
The most common errors involved failing to sign off on the patients bedside information chart that insulin had been given which happened to 111 of patients 440 and failing to appropriately adjust medication when the patient had a high blood sugar level which happened to 239 800
More than 17 600 of patients with medication errors had a severe hypoglycaemic attack while in hospital compared to 75 550 of patients who did not suffer medication errors
Audit lead clinician Dr Gerry Rayman consultant physician and head of service at Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust Diabetes and Endocrine Centre said Although it is pleasing to see there have been improvements in medication errors since the last audit there is a long way to go and indeed the majority of hospital doctors and ward nurses still do not have basic training in insulin management and glucose control
Training needs to be mandatory to improve diabetes control and reduce the frequency of severe hypoglycaemia
It is also needed to prevent diabetic ketosis occurring in hospital for which there can be no excuse
Its occurrence is negligent and should never happen
The audit was managed by the Health and Social Care Information Centre in partnership with Diabetes UK and commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership
It examined bedside data for 12800 patients and 6600 patient questionnaires covering subjects including medication errors and patient harm over a sevenday period in October 2011

Date : 17 May, 2012
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