People with diabetes who end up in hospital are being put at increased risk of serious complications due to the “shocking” state of hospital care in England and Wales, new research suggests.
Latest findings from the National Diabetes Inpatient Audit, published today, showed that 60 diabetes patients in hospitals across the two nations developed diabetic ketoacidosis during a one week survey.
According to Bridget Turner, director of policy and care improvement at Diabetes UK, this indicates that some patients with diabetes are receiving such poor care in hospitals that they are “being put at risk of dying of an entirely preventable, life-threatening condition.
“Even a single case of diabetic ketoacidosis developing in hospital is unacceptable because it suggests that insulin has been withheld from that person for some time,” she said.
“The fact that this is regularly happening raises serious questions about the ability of hospitals to provide even the most basic level of diabetes care. But the small minority of people who become seriously ill through neglect is just the tip of the iceberg.”
The audit revealed that 39.8% of diabetic patients in England admitted to hospital suffered from a medication error, down from 44.5% in 2010, while in Wales, the figure was 36.7%.
In addition, a third of hospitals in England (32.2%) and nearly half in Wales (47.1%) had no diabetes specialist nurse for inpatients, and less than 60% of patients who should have been visited by a specialist diabetes team actually saw one.
“In every aspect of hospital diabetes care that this report shines a light o, the picture that emerges is profoundly disturbing,” Turner continued.
“Medication errors are being made with alarming regularity, large numbers of people are not getting foot checks that we know can help prevent amputation, while one in 10 people’s blood glucose level is dropping dangerously low during their hospital stay.
“Put together, this adds up to a situation where in too many cases hospitals are doing people with diabetes more harm than good.”

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