June 13, 2016

Hospitals Need to Test More for Diabetes

Hospitals are being urged to test people for diabetes while in the hospital. Patients with high blood sugar and no known history of diabetes were five times more likely to leave the hospital with a diagnosis if given a standard test. Researchers say the high rate of hospital patients with high blood sugar diagnosed with diabetes who had no known history of the condition suggests increased screening is necessary to catch these patients.

Researchers at Touro University and Ohio University found a high rate of missed diabetes diagnoses were caught in the hospital, which they say suggests changes to hospital protocol and increased screening for the condition is necessary. The HbA1C test is used to measure average blood glucose level over the previous 8 to 12 weeks (The test actually measures blood glucose levels for the previous 16 weeks or four months). Often, it detects hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, which can be ascribed to physiologic stress, illness or medications.

Hyperglycemia is often detected in hospital patients during treatment for conditions such as sepsis or heart attack, and the recent study showing a high proportion of these patients having diabetes or prediabetes suggests there is more doctors can do.

Dr. Jay Shubrook, a researcher at Touro University California, in a press release said, "We are missing opportunities to detect diabetes and initiate treatment for those patients to help manage that disease, which can reduce their long-term cost of care and disease burden."

For the study, published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, the researchers reviewed medical records for 348 hospital patients with hyperglycemia in the hospital.

"From the osteopathic perspective of early detection equals better outcomes, it's easy to make a case for hospital protocols to trigger an HbA1C test when hyperglycemia is detected to distinguish between transient hyperglycemia and chronic disease," Shubrook said.

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