A cross-sectional analysis of the short-term outcomes of patients receiving prehospital treatment for symptomatic hypoglycaemia in Cape Town

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Abstract

Introduction There has been a growing prevalence of patients with chronic medical conditions in South Africa, diabetes mellitus being one of them. Acute symptomatic hypoglycaemia (SH) refers to decreased level of plasma glucose <3.5 mmol/L accompanied by an altered level of consciousness. Pre-hospital management of such episodes includes reversal by oral and/or intravenous glucose administration, or intramuscular glucagon administration. Post-reversal, patients may refuse transport to hospital, which may result in recurrent episodes of acute SH. The aim of this study was to retrospectively determine the outcomes of adult SH patients who were treated and discharged pre-hospital. Methods A retrospective cross-sectional study design was used. Patient report forms from patients with SH managed in the pre-hospital setting between May 2012 and September 2012 in the greater Cape Town area were extracted from the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) database. A follow-up survey using a closed-ended questionnaire was administered to these same patients within seven days post-reversal to evaluate the efficacy of pre-hospital discharge of SH patients. Results A total of 110 eligible patients were identified and telephonically interviewed. It was found that 21 (19%) of cases had subsequently died. Of the 89 remaining cases, 30 (34%) reactivated EMS within seven days of discharge, independent of SH being the chief complaint. In total, 48 (54%) had recurrent episodes of SH within seven days of discharge by EMS. In 47 (53%) of cases discharged by EMS, no follow-up instructions were provided to mitigate recurrent SH episodes or complications. Conclusion More than half of patients who received pre-hospital treatment and discharge for SH had recurrent symptoms post-reversal by EMS staff, with a third needing to reactivate EMS. This would suggest that the current strategy of dealing with such cases needs careful re-evaluation to improve the quality of management of this patient population.

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Ridhaa Booley, M., & Welzel, T. (2015). A cross-sectional analysis of the short-term outcomes of patients receiving prehospital treatment for symptomatic hypoglycaemia in Cape Town. African Journal of Emergency Medicine, 5(4), 159–164. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.afjem.2015.03.003

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