As COVID-19 Overloads Hospitals and ICUs, Glycemic Management Can Help

Since founding Glytec fourteen years ago, we’ve been beating the drum about the importance of glycemic management in the hospital setting. All too often, glycemic management is overlooked, as physicians and advanced practice providers (APPs) focus on the multitude of other medical conditions their patients face.

It makes perfect sense to focus on the primary problems before moving on to secondary problems. But the evidence is clear: inpatient glycemic control, even during a short hospital stay, impacts patient outcomes.

The COVID-19 pandemic, and the data we’ve uncovered related to COVID-19 patients with glycemic control issues, magnify this fact. Consider the following statistics from an April 2020 study based on Glytec data of 1,122 COVID-19 patients in 88 hospitals across the country. The study found:

  • 6% mortality rate for patients with no glycemic issues
  • 29% mortality rate for patients with known diabetes and/or uncontrolled hyperglycemia
  • 42% mortality rate for patients with no diabetes, but developed uncontrolled hyperglycemia
  • 7 day median length of stay (LOS) for patients with diabetes and/or uncontrolled hyperglycemia vs 4.3 day LOS for those without either

Uncontrolled hyperglycemia for the study was defined as 2 or more blood glucose readings >180 mg/dl in a 24 hour period during the hospital stay.

This confirms what we know from other conditions, that diabetes and uncontrolled hyperglycemia is associated with worse outcomes. Patients with known diabetes were four times more likely to die than patients with normal blood sugar in the hospital. And what’s even more telling is that patients who had no known glycemic issues when they entered the hospital but experienced hyperglycemia once admitted were seven times more likely to die. This data all suggests that glycemic management in the hospital is a critical component of care for improving outcomes for COVID-19 patients.

The other big takeaway we learned from this study involves length of stay, which is becoming extremely important amid reports of hospitals and ICUs across the country reaching capacity. By early July in Florida, more than 50 of the state’s hospitals had reached 100% capacity in their ICUs. And across the state, 84% of ICU beds had been filled. The number of COVID-19 cases has only increased since then and other states including Arizona, Louisiana and California are facing similar challenges. Anything providers can do to help patients recover more quickly, and in turn free up much-needed space, will help. And we know that better glycemic management can have an impact because we’ve seen an average LoS reduction of 3.2 days using an eGMS.

Big Challenge, Big Population

If you consider that about 10% of the general population in the U.S. is living with diabetes, you might think that better glucose management would only concern that sliver of the population. But in reality, the number of patients in need of better glucose management during a hospital stay is much higher – especially for patients being treated for COVID-19.

Despite only one-tenth of the population living with diabetes, about one-third of patients in the hospital experience glycemic control issues during their stay. This happens for a number of reasons ranging from the medications that adversely impact blood glucose levels, to the stress a person’s body undergoes during surgery.

We also know now that the number of COVID patients facing glucose management challenges is even higher. Among the 1,122 patients studied, 40% of them had diabetes or experienced glycemic control issues during their hospital stay.

We’re Here to Help

For hospitals and health systems facing this crisis right now, or preparing for the second wave, Glytec’s first priority is helping however we can. As an FDA-cleared solution for insulin optimization, Glytec’s Glucommander software can ease the burden on front-line workers by helping them bring patients to safe blood glucose levels more quickly, and keep them there. As a cloud-based solution, Glucommander can be deployed quickly – and remotely – so providers can begin using it to improve care and outcomes almost immediately.

It’s worth restating: our first priority is helping however we can. If you’re a healthcare provider who would like to discuss how better glycemic management can improve care and how we can best work together, please contact us.

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