National survey of the management of Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) in the UK in 2014

K K Dhatariya, I Nunney, K Higgins, M J Sampson, G Iceton

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AIM: To examine, in a national survey, the outcomes of adult patients presenting with DKA in 2014, mapped against accepted UK national guidance. 

METHODS: Data were collected in a standardized form covering clinical and biochemical outcomes, risk and discharge planning. The form was sent to all UK diabetes specialist teams (n = 220). Anonymized data were collected on five consecutive patients admitted with DKA between 1 May 2014 and 30 November 2014. 

RESULTS: A total of 283 forms were received (n = 281 patients) from 72 hospitals, of which 71.4% used the national guidelines. The results showed that 7.8% of cases occurred in existing inpatients, 6.1% of admissions were newly diagnosed diabetes and 33.7% of patients had had at least one episode of DKA in the preceding year. The median times to starting 0.9% sodium chloride and intravenous insulin were 41.5 and 60 min, respectively. The median time to resolution was 18.7 h and the median length of hospital stay was 2.6 days. Significant adverse biochemical outcomes occurred, with 27.6% of patients developing hypoglycaemia and 55% reported as having hypokalaemia. There were also significant issues with care processes. Initial nurse-led observations were carried out well, but subsequent patient monitoring remained suboptimal. Most patients were not seen by a member of the diabetes specialist team during the first 6 h, but 95% were seen before discharge. A significant minority of discharge letters to primary care did not contain necessary information. 

CONCLUSION: Despite widespread adoption of national guidance, several areas of management of DKA are suboptimal, being associated with avoidable biochemical and clinical risk. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-260
Number of pages9
JournalDiabetic Medicine
Issue number2
Early online date8 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016

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