Intensive care unit (ICU) patients experience hypoglycemia at nearly 4 times the rate seen in non-ICU counterparts. Although inpatient hypoglycemia management relies on nurse-driven protocols, protocol adherence varies between institutions and units.


To compare hypoglycemia management between ICU and non-ICU patients in an institution with high adherence to a hypoglycemia protocol.


This secondary analysis used retrospective medical record data. Cases were ICU patients aged 18 years or older with at least 1 hypoglycemic event (blood glucose level < 70 mg/dL); non-ICU controls were matched by age within 10 years, sex, and comorbidities. Time from initial hypoglycemic blood glucose level to subsequent blood glucose recheck, number of interventions, time to normoglycemia, and number of spontaneous hypoglycemic events were compared between groups.


The sample included 140 ICU patients and 280 non-ICU controls. Median time to blood glucose recheck did not differ significantly between groups (19 minutes for both groups). Difference in mean number of interventions before normoglycemia was statistically but not clinically significant (ICU, 1.12; non-ICU, 1.35; P < .001). Eighty-four percent of ICU patients and 86% of non-ICU patients returned to normoglycemia within 1 hour. Median time to normoglycemia was lower in ICU patients than non-ICU patients (21.5 vs 26 minutes; P = .01). About 25% of patients in both groups experienced a spontaneous hypoglycemic event.


Adherence to nurse-driven hypoglycemia protocols can be equally effective in ICU and non-ICU patients. Further research is needed to determine protocol adherence barriers and patient characteristics that influence response to hypoglycemia interventions.

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