Nearly one in three hospital patients with diabetes are affected by medication mistakes that can lead to dangerously high or low blood glucose levels, checks have revealed.
A report by the National Audit Commission found that Hospitals are making nearly four thousand medication errors a week for patients with diabetes. Hospitals in England and Wales made at least one error in the treatment of 3,700 people with diabetes during just one week, according to the audit covering nearly 13,000 patients at 230 hospitals.
Patients who experienced medication errors suffered more than double the number of severe hypoglycaemic – “hypo” – episodes than patients without errors. These happen when blood glucose levels drop dangerously low and, if left untreated, can lead to seizures, coma or death.
In addition, 68 patients developed diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) during their stay in hospital. DKA occurs when blood glucose levels are consistently high, which suggests that insulin treatment was not administered for a significant period. DKA can be fatal if not treated.
Many hospital doctors and nurses don’t have the basic training needed to treat diabetics.
Gerry Rayman, a consultant physician and head of service at Ipswich Hospital Trust’s diabetes and endocrine centre, who was clinical lead for the audit, said there was a long way to go for diabetes care. Most hospital doctors and ward nurses still did not have basic training in insulin management and glucose control, he said.
“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.”
There is no doubt that big improvements in care and patient safety can happen by ensuring hospitals are adequately staffed with inpatient diabetes specialist teams, who can provide leadership, governance and training to other hospital staff.”
NCC Home Learning have developed a distance learning Diabetes Awareness course which is ideal for all healthcare staff. The home study Diabetes Awareness programme will help all staff, supervisors and managers to become more effective in many areas of their work, from understanding diabetes to helping others cope with it.
Also available is the Diabetes in Children and Young People course which is suitable for all those who may work with children and young people.
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