A new study has been published in Primary Care Diabetes on ‘Severe hypoglycaemia requiring emergency medical assistance by ambulance services in the East Midlands: a retrospective study’. Hypoglycaemia or low blood sugar is important because this may be linked to greater risk of death.
The study involved a new collaboration between the University of Leicester Cardiovascular and Diabetes group (Professors Kamlesh Khunti and Melanie Davies), University of Bristol (Harriet Fisher), University of Queensland, Australia (Sanjoy Paul),University of Lincoln and East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust (Mohammad Iqbal, Professor Niro Siriwardena).
The study aimed to report the characteristics, treatment and provider costs for people with diabetes requiring an emergency ambulance for severe hypoglycaemia and involved an analysis of routinely collected data on 90,435 emergency calls collected over four months by the East Midlands Ambulance Trust, UK.
There were 523 (0.6%) ambulance attendances for severe hypoglycaemia, with an incidence of 2.76 per 100 patient years: 28% of events occurred at night and 32% of those attended were transported to hospital. Those patients with a higher respiratory rate, indicating difficulty breathing, were more likely to be transported to hospital, whereas patients on treatment with insulin and those with higher blood glucose after treatment of hypoglycaemia were less likely to be transported to hospital.
Median ambulance costs were higher at £176 for individuals not transported to hospital whereas those transported cost £92 reflecting the greater time ambulance staff spent with patients who were enabled to remain at home.
The research team are planning further studies investigating longer term outcomes of prehospital care for hypoglycaemia as part of CaHRU’s Prehospital and Emergency Quality and Outcomes (PEQO) programme.