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Diabetes and Hospital Safety

Times of illness and hospitalization are especially challenging to people who have diabetes. Routines are disrupted, food is different and the physical and mental stresses of illness all make controlling blood glucose levels increasingly difficult. If you are admitted to the hospital be sure to tell the staff that you have diabetes. Know the names of your medicines, including insulin, how much you take and when you take it.

Just like at home, keeping blood glucose as close to normal during hospitalization is important in healing faster, preventing infection and avoiding further complications. To accomplish this, it may be necessary for your medicines to be changed while you are hospitalized.  This may mean that people who take pills for their diabetes, or whose diabetes is diet-controlled, may receive insulin injections or infusions while in the hospital. Sometimes medication needs are different after an illness, so you  could go home with different diabetes medicines ordered. If your blood sugar was not well-controlled before you went to the hospital, the diabetes educator and/or your doctor may think a change in medicines would help. 

When you are in the hospital, you should ask questions related to any change in medicines. You should feel free to ask about the medicines you are being given, and to remind the nurse when it is time for your medicines. Know your blood glucose testing schedule and remind your nurse when it is time for the test. Be honest about any problems you're having with your diabetes. Often we can help. Be an active participant in your care, and you will learn more and help ensure your safety.  At Saint Joseph, if you have any questions about your diabetes or your diabetes care, please ask your nurse to contact the diabetes educator, who will then visit you.

If you are having surgery, be sure to ask your physician if you should change the amount of medicine you take in the hours before before the surgery. If you are having outpatient surgery, ask your doctor for instructions to be sent with you to the hospital.

After you go home, check your blood glucose several times a day. Often it will be higher than normal following surgery. If it is high, your risk for infection and slow healing is increased. To prevent this, call the doctor who helps you with your diabetes. Tell the doctor about your blood glucose levels and ask if you should change you medicine while healing.

Sometimes after surgery your blood glucose is lower than normal, maybe because you aren't eating well. Ask your physician for instructions on what to do if this happens to you.

For more information, see our section on Diabetes Sick Day Tips

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