Hypoglycemia requiring paramedic assistance places a large burden on the health care system (HCS), and negatively impacts quality of life and long-term outcomes in patients with diabetes. Prior studies have shown that only a small proportion of patients with paramedic-assist requiring hypoglycemia are subsequently brought to the Emergency Room; thus severe hypoglycemia (SHG) is often “invisible” to the HCS and is not adequately followed up on. We created an innovative, two-step hypoglycemia education program in London, Canada which consists of a direct electronic referral system by paramedics at the time they assess patients with SHG to the local Diabetes Education Center (DEC) for a standardized hypoglycemia education. There were a total of 446 SHG calls to the Middlesex-London Paramedic Service from September 2017- June 2018. Of those, 322 (72%) were eligible for our study, of whom 135 (42%) were referred to the DEC and only 79 patients agreed to attend. Of the 79 patients who were enrolled over 21 months, 49 (62%) were male; the mean age was 61±16 (range 18-88 yrs); and 40 (51%) had type 2, 32 (41%) type 1, and 7 (9%) were unknown diabetes type. Of those 48 (61%) were taking insulin, 8 (10%) oral hypoglycemic agents of which the most common was glyburide (5/8, 63%), and 19 (24%) were on both oral agents and insulin. Three (4%) patients were on an insulin pump. Mean HbA1c was 63±9 mmol/mol (7.9±1.3, range 4.8-10.6%) and the majority did not have an Endocrinologist (49, 62%). Only 50 (63%) completed the education program. There were no statistically significant differences between the characteristics of the patients who attended and did not attend DEC program. Patients experiencing SHG remain ’hidden’ from the HCS. Hence, the impact of SHG is underestimated and understudied. Despite an accessible referral system to a focused intervention, our program was not successful in engaging many patients with SHG requiring paramedic assistance in a program to decrease their risk for SHG. Further study to explore barriers is needed.
T. Spaic: Research Support; Self; Novo Nordisk Inc. Speaker’s Bureau; Self; Dexcom, Inc., Sanofi. S.L. Liu: Consultant; Self; Merck & Co., Inc., Novo Nordisk Inc., Sanofi. Research Support; Self; Novo Nordisk Inc., Sanofi. D.R. Carter: None. M. Peddle: None. J. Mahon: None.
Academic Medical Organization of Southwestern Ontario