To evaluate the hospital care rendered to hyperglycemic individuals who did not have a diagnosis of diabetes before admission.


A total of 1,034 consecutively hospitalized adult patients at a 750-bed inner-city teaching hospital were evaluated. Patients with one or more plasma glucose values >200 mg/dl were identified by the laboratory data system on a daily basis. Patients without a diagnosis of diabetes at the time of admission were evaluated to determine if and how physicians addressed the hyperglycemia, whether a new diagnosis of diabetes was made during admission, and whether follow-up was planned to address the hyperglycemia.


After excluding patients who were admitted for a primary diagnosis of diabetes, 37.5% of all hyperglycemic medical patients and 33% of hyperglycemic surgical patients were without a diagnosis of diabetes at the time of admission. These patients had a mean peak glucose of 299 mg/dl, and 66% had two or more elevated values during their hospitalization. Fifty-four percent received insulin therapy, and 59% received bedside glucose monitoring, yet 66% of daily patient progress notes failed to comment on the presence of hyperglycemia or diabetes. Diabetes was documented in only three patients (7.3%) as a possible diagnosis in the daily progress notes.


Despite marked hyperglycemia, most medical records made no reference to the possibility of unrecognized diabetes. Given the average delay of a decade between the onset and diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, further evaluation of hyperglycemic hospitalized patients may present an important opportunity for earlier detection and the initiation of therapy.

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