Glycemic control in hospitalized patients not in intensive care: beyond sliding-scale insulin.
Am Fam Physician. 2010 May 1;81(9):1130-5
Authors: Nau KC, Lorenzetti RC, Cucuzzella M, Devine T, Kline J
Glycemic control in hospitalized patients who are not in intensive care remains unsatisfactory. Despite persistent expert recommendations urging its abandonment, the use of sliding-scale insulin remains pervasive in U.S. hospitals. Evidence for the effectiveness of sliding-scale insulin is lacking after more than 40 years of use. New physiologic subcutaneous insulin protocols use basal, nutritional, and correctional insulin. The initial total daily dose of subcutaneous insulin is calculated using a factor of 0.3 to 0.6 units per kg body weight, with one half given as long-acting insulin (the basal insulin dose), and the other one half divided daily over three meals as short-acting insulin doses (nutritional insulin doses). A correctional insulin dose provides a final insulin adjustment based on the preprandial glucose value. This correctional dose resembles a sliding scale, but is only a small fine-tuning of therapy, as opposed to traditional sliding-scale insulin alone. Insulin sensitivity, nutritional intake, and total daily dosing review can alter the physiologic insulin-dosing schedule. Prospective trials have demonstrated reductions in hyperglycemic measurements, hypoglycemia, and adjusted hospital length of stay when physiologic subcutaneous insulin protocols are used. Transitions in care require special considerations and attention to glycemic control medications. Changing the sliding-scale insulin culture requires a multidisciplinary effort to improve patient safety and outcomes.
PMID: 20433129 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]