Diabetics at risk

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POTENTIALLY life-threatening errors are still being made in Wigan hospitals affecting people with Diabetes according to a report.

Despite improvements being made in most areas of Diabetic care at Wrightington Wigan Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL), there were rises in prescription errors and in the amount of minor hypoglycaemic attacks then there were in 2010.

However, there were less medication errors, management errors and severe hypoglycaemic attacks, as well as less patients in 2011, according to the National Diabetes Inpatient Audit.

The audit took place at WWL over a seven day period which saw prescription errors hit 11 per cent, up from 10 per cent in 2010, while minor hypoglycaemic attacks rose from nine per cent in 2010 to 21 per cent in 2011.

Hypoglycaemic attacks occur when blood glucose levels drop dangerously low and if left untreated can lead to seizures, coma or death.

There were also 12 fewer patients admitted to WWL during the audit in 2011 than there were in 2010 and medication errors fell from 21 per cent in 2010 to just 15 per cent in 2011.

Other findings revealed that management errors fell to six per cent from 14 per cent and severe hypoglycaemic attacks fell to two per cent from 10.

Nationally, nearly one in three hospital patients with diabetes are affected by errors which can result in dangerously high blood glucose levels. Audit lead clinician Dr Gerry Rayman said: “Although it is pleasing to see there have been improvements in medication errors since the last audit there is a long way to go and indeed the majority of hospital doctors and ward nurses still do not have basic training in insulin management and glucose control”.

“Training needs to be mandatory to improve diabetes control and reduce the frequency of severe hypoglycaemia. It is also needed to prevent diabetic ketosis occurring in hospital, for which there can be no excuse; its occurrence is negligent and should never happen.

“However, controlling diabetes at the best of times can be difficult in some patients; more so if they are ill and unable to eat and drink. This is why the knowledge, experience and skills of diabetes specialist staff are so important.

“There is no doubt that big improvements in care and patient safety can happen by ensuring hospitals are adequately staffed with inpatient diabetes specialist teams, who can provide leadership, governance and training to other hospital staff.”

WWL would not comment at the time of going to print.