Intensive insulin protocol implementation and outcomes in the medical and surgical wards at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center

Helen J. Chen, Douglas T. Steinke, Dennis G. Karounos, Matthew T. Lane, Adrienne W. Matson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Hyperglycemia is an important marker for clinical outcomes and mortality in hospitalized patients. New national standards have been established emphasizing the importance of improving inpatient glycemic control in individuals with diabetes or new-onset hyperglycemia. Implementation of these new standards is complex and requires a multidisciplinary team approach. A basal-bolus insulin regimen approach has been shown to improve inpatient glycemic control. Few studies have been published regarding basal-bolus insulin protocol outcomes in the non-intensive care unit (ICU) setting. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the efficacy of a basal-bolus insulin protocol on inpatient glycemic control in a non-ICU setting, as measured by mean blood glucose and number of hypoglycemic episodes per patient admission. METHODS: A retrospective, observational, single-center study was conducted to compare blood glucose control pre- (October 2006-March 2007) and postprotocol (November 2007-January 2008) implementation. Inclusion criteria consisted of patient admission to a medical or surgical ward for at least 72 hours, with a diagnosis of diabetes, or presentation with 2 blood glucose readings greater than 180 mg/dL. Patients admitted to the ICU or those not admitted to a medical or surgical ward were excluded. RESULTS: Following protocol implementation, the mean ± SD blood glucose level increased from 174 ± 88 mg/dL to 188 ± 95 mg/dL (p < 0.001) and the hypoglycemic incidents significantly decreased, from 1.11 to 0.51 events per patient admission (p < 0.0025). CONCLUSIONS: In this pilot study, implementation of a basal-bolus insulin protocol significantly reduced hypoglycemic events; however, mean blood glucose values increased. These results suggest that a basal-bolus insulin protocol can reduce hypoglycemia; however, factors such as protocol compliance, barriers in overcoming the use of the traditional sliding scale insulin regimens, staff education, and change of work-flow habits can influence the overall efficacy and impact of a basal-bolus insulin protocol on inpatient glycemic control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-256
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Pharmacotherapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2010


  • Blood glucose
  • Clinical protocols
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Insulin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)


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