People who experience hypoglycemia during a hospital stay typically spend a longer time in hospital, new research has found.
A review of 15 international studies has shown that people with diabetes who develop hypoglycemia while in hospital, end up staying for an average of 4.1 days more than those who did not experience low blood glucose levels.
The study also showed that mortality rates were nearly double in people with diabetes who experienced hypoglycemia in hospital compared with those that did not.
The research raises the question of whether preventing hypoglycemia may help to reduce the length of hospital stays and whether it could reduce mortality rates.
Lead author Andrea Lake, a diabetes nurse specialist at Cambridge University Hospitals, said: “It’s really important that we understand the impact hypoglycemia can have on our inpatients’ recovery. Our review found not only longer hospital stays for those exposed to hypoglycemia, but the risk of inpatient mortality almost doubled in this group.
“Although it is impossible to tell from the studies reviewed whether a hypo is the cause of this increase or simply a marker of someone who is at greater risk, understanding the association means we can start to deal with it.
“If we could reduce the chances of it happening in the first place that would be really beneficial for our patients. We need to be considering the risk factors for hypoglycemia, acting upon them and notifying the appropriate people.”
The studies used for the review involved hospitals from the UK, the USA, Spain, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Italy and Sweden.
In a bid to prevent hypoglycemic episodes in hospital, the researchers have suggested patients should be encouraged to keep to their normal diabetes routine, using the equipment they are used to.
The findings have been published in the journal.