Prevention of inpatient hypoglycemia with a real-time informatics alert

C. Rachel Kilpatrick, Michael B. Elliott, Elizabeth Pratt, Stephen J. Schafers, Mary Clare Blackburn, Kevin Heard, Janet B. Mcgill, Mark Thoelke, Garry S. Tobin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Background: Severe hypoglycemia (SH), defined as a blood glucose (BG) <40 mg/dL, is associated with an increased risk of adverse clinical outcomes in inpatients. Objective: To determine whether a predictive informatics hypoglycemia risk-alert supported by trained nurse responders would reduce the incidence of SH in our hospital. Design: A 5-month prospective cohort intervention study. Setting: Acute care medical floors in a tertiary care academic hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. Patients: From 655 inpatients on designated medical floors with a BG of <90 mg/dL, 390 were identified as high risk for hypoglycemia by the alert system. Measurements: The primary outcome was the incidence of SH occurring in high-risk intervention versus high-risk control patients. Secondary outcomes included: number of episodes of SH in all study patients, incidence of BG<60 mg/dL and severe hyperglycemia with a BG >299 mg/dL, length of stay, transfer to a higher level of care, the frequency that high-risk patient's orders were changed in response to the alert-intervention process, and mortality. RESULTS: The alert process, when augmented by nurse-physician collaboration, resulted in a significant decrease by 68% in the rate of SH in alerted high-risk patients versus nonalerted high-risk patients (3.1% vs 9.7%, P=0.012). Rates of hyperglycemia were similar on intervention and control floors at 28% each. There was no difference in mortality, length of stay, or patients requiring transfer to a higher level of care. Conclusion: A real-time predictive informatics-generated alert, when supported by trained nurse responders, significantly reduced inpatient SH. Journal of Hospital Medicine 2014;9:621-626.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)621-626
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of hospital medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014


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