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Hosp Pharm. 2013 Mar;48(3):213-8. doi: 10.1310/hpj4803-213.

Comparison of the efficacy and safety of two different insulin infusion protocols in the medical intensive care unit.

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Associate Professor, Temple University School of Pharmacy, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Clinical Pharmacy Specialist in Internal Medicine, Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Assistant Professor, Temple University School of Pharmacy, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Associate Professor, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and Director, Biostatistics Consulting Center, Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.



New guidelines recommend using less intensive glycemic goals in critically ill patients receiving insulin infusions.


To compare the efficacy and safety of a modified insulin infusion protocol (MIIP) with less stringent blood glucose (BG) goals to an intensive insulin infusion protocol (IIIP) in patients in a medical intensive care unit (MICU).


Retrospective review of patients receiving an insulin infusion for at least 24 hours. Patients treated for hyperglycemic emergencies were excluded. The primary endpoint of the study was mean area under the BG curve (BG-AUC) at 24 and 48 hours. Other endpoints included mean BG, hours until BG at goal, rate of BG above goal, frequency of BG measurements, and rate of hypoglycemia.


BG-AUC at 24 hours was similar between the groups (MIIP = 5177.7 ± 1221.3 mg/dL x h vs IIIP = 4850.3 ± 1301.7 mg/dL x h; P = .20). The mean BG level at 24 hours was 225.1 ± 91.1 mg/dL in the MIIP group and 205.7 ± 89.7 mg/dL in the IIIP group (P = .06). In the MIIP group, 61.7% of the BG levels were above goal as compared to 87.5% in the IIIP group (P < .0001). Patients were able to achieve BG goals faster with the MIIP (12.58 ± 10.5 hours vs 29.37 ± 16.8 hours; P < .001). The rate of severe hypoglycemia was lower at 24 hours in the patients following the MIIP (0% vs 0.3%; P = .01).


The study showed that by having less intensive glycemic goals, goal BG levels can achieved faster and the rate of severe hypoglycemia can decrease.


insulin infusion; intensive care unit; protocol

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