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Evaluation of Outcomes Following Hospital-Wide Implementation of a Subcutaneous Insulin Protocol for Diabetic Ketoacidosis

Standard diabetic ketoacidosis care in the US includes intravenous insulin treatment in the intensive care unit. Subcutaneous (SQ) insulin could decrease intensive care unit need, but the data are limited. To assess outcomes after implementation of an SQ insulin protocol for treating diabetic ketoacidosis. This cohort study is a retrospective evaluation of a prospectively implemented SQ insulin protocol. The study was conducted at an integrated health care system in Northern California. Participants included hospitalized patients with diabetic ketoacidosis at 21 hospitals between January 1, 2010, and December 31, 2019. The preimplementation phase was 2010 to 2015, and the postimplementation phase was 2017 to 2019. Data analysis was performed from October 2020 to January 2022. An SQ insulin treatment protocol for diabetic ketoacidosis. Difference-in-differences evaluation of the need for intensive care, mortality, readmission, and length of stay at a single intervention site using an SQ insulin protocol from 2017 onward compared with 20 control hospitals using standard care. A total of 7989 hospitalizations for diabetic ketoacidosis occurred, with 4739 (59.3%) occurring before and 3250 (40.7%) occurring after implementation. The overall mean (SD) age was 42.3 (17.7) years, with 4137 hospitalizations (51.8%) occurring among female patients. Before implementation, SQ insulin was the first insulin used in 40 intervention (13.4%) and 651 control (14.7%) hospitalizations. After implementation, 98 hospitalizations (80.3%) received SQ insulin first at the intervention site compared with 402 hospitalizations (12.8%) at control sites. The adjusted rate ratio for intensive care unit admission was 0.43 (95% CI, 0.33-0.56) at the intervention sites, a 57% reduction compared with control sites, and was 0.50 (95% CI, 0.25-0.99) for 30-day hospital readmission, a 50% reduction. There were no significant changes in hospital length of stay and rates of death. These findings suggest that a protocol based on SQ insulin for diabetic ketoacidosis treatment was associated with significant decreases in intensive care unit need and readmission, with no evidence of increases in adverse events.

Authors: Rao, Priya; Jiang, Sheng-Fang; Kipnis, Patricia; Patel, Divyesh M; Katsnelson, Svetlana; Madani, Samineh; Liu, Vincent X

JAMA Netw Open. 2022 Apr 01;5(4):e226417. Epub 2022-04-01.

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