Guest Post, David Mapletoft, Diabetes Educator
With a safe and effective diabetes self management plan you can reduce your risk of the need for a hospital admission. However, if you do end up in a hospital bed – and it may not be for diabetes – ask to see one of the diabetes team.
Having the diabetes team in your corner is likely to reduce your time in hospital. Hospital admissions can sometimes be prolonged due to diabetes inadequately managed by non-expert health care professionals. Before admission consider: asking for a copy of the Hospital’s Policy Brochure “Your Rights and Responsibilities” – they should have one.
Managing hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia
You can request to see the hospital’s policies for the management of hypo and hyperglycaemia. Ask the treating team of doctors and nurses how this policy will be carried out as a part of your hospital care plan before you enter hospital, or in an emergency, as soon as you or a support person are able.
- Request that you be able to access your own tools and treatments to manage a hypo. If this becomes a problem ask to speak to the nurse in charge of your ward, or one of the doctors on your treating team.
- If you are well enough and able to make decisions as usual, request that you be able to adjust your own insulin whilst in hospital.
- Ask the treating team to prescribe your insulin doses in a manner that allows for this. Ideally you will have some written plan from your endocrinologist for this situation.
- Following an episode of either hypo or hyper tell the nursing staff how often you want to measure your Blood Glucose Level, or find out what their policy is.
Blood glucose monitoring, including self monitoring blood glucose
Responsibility for monitoring can be shared between you and your hospital team, or managed by either one depending on how well you are and what you want.
- Request that, if you are well enough, you measure your own BGL’s in a timely manner to aid a rapid recovery.
- The approach to monitoring should be agreed and recorded in your hospital care plan. You should have access to your own blood glucose monitoring and quality control equipment.
- If you are self-monitoring you may be asked to record your levels on a blood glucose chart(s)
- The range and level of your blood glucose levels should be discussed and agreed with you in partnership with the hospital and diabetes specialist teams and recorded in your care plan. Sometimes this range may vary to your usual targets.
Your medications and treatments
If you wish to use your own medications during your hospital stay this should have been agreed and recorded in your care plan. If you are not able to use your own medications your hospital team should ensure that your medications are given to you at the appropriate times.
Unless impractical, ask to be given the opportunity to check that the medications on the prescription chart are correct.
Changes to your diabetes treatments
Not all people will experience a change to their diabetes treatments during their hospital stay. However there may be occasions where a change to your diabetes treatment(s) is required in order to better stabilise your diabetes control. If your treatment is being adjusted, especially if your insulin type is being changed by doctors who are not diabetes specialists, ask what their rationale is, for example
- If you are normally treated with tablets, you may find that you are given insulin.
- If you are usually on a mixed insulin and it is being changed to individual doses 4 times a day or
- If you are normally on individual doses and it is being changed to mixed insulin twice a day or
- Your overnight insulin is being changed or that you are given a glucose/insulin drip into a vein.
Access to food and food timings
Wherever possible, you should be able to make your own food choices. Whether this be from the hospital menu, the hospital canteen, or food brought in to your by relatives or friends. Ask to see a dietitian wherever possible.
Check what times meals are, and if an evening snack is going to be provided to reduce your risk of overnight hypos. (one of the most common causes of overnight hypos in hospital is an evening snack served with dinner rather than later in the evening).
Depending on the nature of your stay (eg post surgery), a hospital dietitian may need to specify your dietary requirements. You may need some short term changes to aid healing etc.
Ask a family member or friend to advocate for you if you are unable to do this yourself
ASK QUESTIONS – IT’S YOUR RIGHT
Travel Safely, David – Diabetes Educator