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Diabetes Metab Res Rev. 2015 Oct;31(7):745-51. doi: 10.1002/dmrr.2667. Epub 2015 Jul 14.

Access to emergency room for hypoglycaemia in people with diabetes.

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Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine - Section of Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.
Department of Emergency - Emergency Medicine Section, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria Pisana, Pisa, Italy.



Hypoglycaemia is a major burden of the pharmacological therapy of diabetes and is associated with increased morbidity, mortality and treatment costs.


We screened all admissions to the emergency room of the Pisa University Hospital from 1 January 2009 to 31 December 2013, selecting individuals with a discharge diagnosis of hypoglycaemia. We retrieved 500 admissions involving adult diabetic patients: age 71 ± 16 years; M/F 50.2/49.8%; 70.2% type 2 diabetes (T2DM).


Among T2DM, 42.2% were on insulin, 10.8% on insulin plus oral anti-diabetes drugs and 38.2% on oral anti-diabetes drugs alone (92% sulphonylureas/glinides ± insulin-sensitizers). Glibenclamide was the most frequently used sulphonylurea (69%). Individuals treated with oral anti-diabetes drugs were older than those on insulin (79 ± 11 versus 74 ± 12 years; p < 0.0001). Among patients taking sulphonylurea, 47% had estimated glomerular filtration rate <60 mL/min/1.73 m(2) and 13.5% had <30 mL/min/1.73 m(2) . In-hospital admission occurred in 20% of cases. Hospitalized patients with T2DM were older than those discharged (80 ± 10 versus 76 ± 12 years, p < 0.01) and were on oral antidiabetic drugs in 54.8% of the cases, whereas 35.7% were on insulin (χ(2) , p < 0.0001) and 8.3% on combined therapy. Notably, 93.5% of those on oral anti-diabetic drugs were taking a secretagogue. Insulin-treated subjects were younger than those treated with oral anti-diabetic drugs alone (77 ± 12 versus 82 ± 7 years; p < 0.02). The mean in-hospital annual mortality rate was 85 deaths per 1000 patients-year.


Our results support the recommendation that the risk associated with insulin and insulin-secretagogues should be carefully assessed, particularly when prescribed in vulnerable patients with T2DM.


emergency room; hypoglycaemia; sulphonylurea; type 2 diabetes

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