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The practice of glycaemic control in intensive care units: a multicentre survey of nursing and medical professionals

Abstract

Aims and objectives

To determine the views of nurses and physicians working in intensive care units (ICU) about the aims of glycaemic control and use of their protocols.

Background

Evidence about the optimal aims and methods for glycaemic control in ICU is controversial, and current local protocols guiding practice differ between ICUs, both nationally and internationally. The views of professionals on glycaemic control can influence their practice.

Design

Cross‐sectional, multi‐centre, survey based study.

Methods

An online, short survey was sent to all physicians and nurses of seven ICUs, including questions on effective glycaemic control, treatment of hypoglycaemia, and deviations from protocols’ instructions. STROBE reporting guidelines were followed.

Results

Over half of the 40 respondents opined that a patient spending <75% admission time within the target glycaemic levels constituted poor glycaemic control. Professionals with more than five years’ experience were more likely to rate a patient spending 50‐74% admission time within target glycaemic levels as poor than less experienced colleagues. Physicians were more likely to rate a patient spending <50% admission time within target as poor than nurses. There was general agreement on how professionals would rate most deviations from their protocols. Nurses were more likely to rate insulin infusions restarted late and incorrect dosage of rescue glucose as major deviations than physicians. Most professionals agreed on when they would treat hypoglycaemia.

Conclusions

When surveyed on various aspects of glycaemic control, ICU nurses and physicians often agreed, although there were certain areas of disagreement, in which their profession and level of experience seemed to play a role.

Relevance to clinical practice

Differing views on glycaemic control among professionals may affect their practice and, thus, could lead to health inequalities. Clinical leads and the multidisciplinary ICU team should assess and, if necessary, address these differing opinions.

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