Diabetes UK have warned that insulin errors are still a ‘worrying problem’ in hospitals across England and Wales, with nearly two fifths of people with diabetes who are being treated with insulin experiencing an insulin error in hospital last year.
Figures from the National Diabetes Inpatient Audit (NaDIA) 2017 show that 40 per cent of people with Type 1 diabetes and 37 per cent of people with Type 2 diabetes treated with insulin had an insulin error while in hospital.
The audit also found that that almost one in 15 insulin infusions were inappropriate (six per cent) and one in 14 infusions lasted for at least a week (seven per cent). An insulin infusion should only be used in hospitals when absolutely necessary as they increase the risk of hypos and medication errors.
Insulin errors can be extremely serious and can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) – a life threatening condition – if not treated quickly. The data shows that one in 25 people with Type 1 diabetes experienced hospital-acquired DKA and one in five (18 per cent) had a hypo while admitted.
Insulin errors and overdoses can lead to severe hypoglycaemia, which can have serious – and even deadly – health implications. It is vital that hospitals take steps to reduce these errors, and that, where appropriate, people with diabetes are supported to self-manage their condition in hospital.
To mark Insulin Safety Week (14 – 20 May 2018), Diabetes UK is calling on all hospitals across England and Wales to make sure people with diabetes are safe in hospital. Despite budget cuts, the charity is stressing the importance of diabetes inpatient teams being fully staffed to help support ward staff in administering insulin safely.
David Jones, Assistant Director of Improvement Support and Innovation at Diabetes UK, said: “Diabetes teams are doing fantastic work to improve diabetes care. However the number of insulin errors and inappropriate insulin infusions remains a very worrying problem.
“It is essential that people with diabetes feel safe when they stay in hospital. We have spoken to too many people who don’t, and these figures show that there is still work to do to improve safety. We need to do more to support diabetes teams to help their colleagues provide safe and appropriate care.”
We have a Shared Practice Library where hospitals can access examples of good practice in diabetes care and free online training module in insulin safety from across the UK.
Order an insulin safety resource pack
More information on care in hospital.