Diabetes UK calls on hospitals to improve safety for diabetics

Matt Hancock has taken over as Health Secretary.

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 almost one in 15 insulin infusions were inappropriate and one in 14 infusions lasted for at least a week. 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 had a hypo while admitted.

Insulin errors and overdoses can lead to severe hypoglycaemia, which can have serious 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: “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.”