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Prehospital management of diabetic emergencies – a population-based intervention study

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Diabetes-related emergencies are frequent and potentially life-threatening. A study was performed to obtain reliable data about the prevalence of diabetic emergencies and to improve the quality of prehospital care of patients with diabetes-related emergencies. Methods:

A prospective population-based study in a German emergency medical service district in the period from 1997 to 2000 was conducted. After initial diabetes training for the entire emergency team, a standardized protocol was introduced for prehospital emergency therapy of severe hypoglycaemia (SH) and severe hyperglycaemic disorders. A rapid blood glucose test was performed on all emergency patients with the exception of resuscitations and deaths. Indicators of treatment quality before and after these interventions were compared. Results:

A rapid blood glucose test was performed in 6631 (85%) of the 7804 emergencies that occurred during the period investigated. The prevalence of acute diabetic complications was 3.1%, and 213 cases of SH and 29 severe hyperglycaemic disorders were recorded. Education of the emergency team led to a significant improvement in the quality of treatment. Larger volumes of iv 40% glucose solution (50 ± 20 ml (1997–2000) vs. 25 ± 17 ml (1993–96); P < 0.0001) were administered to patients with SH. Insulin-treated patients who were well educated about their diabetes were more often treated only at the emergency scene, after SH (25% vs. 8%; P = 0.007), and without complications. In 50 patients who experienced sulfonylurea-induced SH, the mandatory additional glucose infusions and hospitalization for further observation reduced mortality from 4.9% to 0% (P = 0.2). Conclusion:

Training of the emergency team is an effective and efficient intervention to improve quality of treatment and prognosis outcome for patients with diabetic emergencies. Treatment of SH at the emergency scene only was demonstrated to be safe in type 1 diabetic patients who had previously received structured patient education.
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Keywords: diabetes; diabetic coma; emergency medicine; hypoglycemia

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: 1st Department of Medicine and 2: Institute of Anaesthesiology, Klinikum Lippe-Detmold, Detmold, Germany

Publication date: 2003-05-01

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