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carbohydrate, dextrose, diabetes, hypoglycemia



  1. Gilmore, Lisa MSN, MBA, RN, CDCES, BC-ADM
  2. Freeman, Susan MSN, RN, CDCES, BC-ADM
  3. Amarasekara, Sathya MS
  4. Maza, Alfredo BA
  5. Setji, Tracy MD, MHS


Purpose: The purpose of this quality improvement project was to evaluate the efficacy of the facility's Hypoglycemia Protocol when treating severe hypoglycemia (defined as blood glucose < 50 mg/dL).


Description: The diabetes clinical nurse specialists conducted a retrospective chart review of diabetic inpatients with severe hypoglycemia who were treated per the Hypoglycemia Protocol from October 1, 2017, through April 30, 2019. The primary outcome was achievement of euglycemia (defined as blood glucose >= 80 mg/dL) 15 to 30 minutes post treatment with either oral carbohydrates or intravenous dextrose.


Outcome: Two hundred twenty-two patients received treatment with oral carbohydrates versus 120 patients who received intravenous dextrose. Fifty patients receiving oral carbohydrates versus 106 patients receiving intravenous dextrose achieved euglycemia after 1 treatment. Compared with treatment with intravenous dextrose, the odds ratio of the rise in blood glucose to 80 mg/dL or greater within 15 to 30 minutes post treatment for a patient given oral carbohydrate was decreased by 97.2%.


Conclusion: Intravenous dextrose was more efficacious than oral carbohydrate treatment in patients with diabetes experiencing severe hypoglycemia. In response, the Hypoglycemia Protocol was revised to increase oral carbohydrate treatment for severe hypoglycemia and to expedite escalation from oral to intravenous treatment.