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Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2005 Apr 1;62(7):714-9.

Causes of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia in adult inpatients.

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The Methodist Hospital, Houston, TX, USA.



The underlying causes of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia in adult medical and surgical inpatients were studied.


Hyperglycemic and hypoglycemic events occurring in adult medical and surgical patients admitted between February and July 2003 to a tertiary care hospital were identified prospectively from automated daily printouts of abnormal blood glucose levels generated by the hospital laboratory. Information on the causes of a random sample of events was ascertained within 24 hours through chart review and provider and patient interviews. Narratives were presented to an expert committee to assess the causes of each event and preventability.


Eighteen of 24 hypoglycemic events and 26 of 26 hyperglycemic episodes were considered preventable. Failure to adjust antidiabetic drugs in response to decreases in oral intake and unexpected deviation from normal hospital routine were the most common factors contributing to hypoglycemia. Hyperglycemia was most often associated with an unwillingness of providers to take responsibility for diabetes management and the exclusive use of sliding-scale insulin regimens.


Hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia in medical and surgical inpatients were mostly related to inadequate prescribing, monitoring, and communication practices.

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