The American Society of Consultant Pharmacists recently released a new hypoglycemia management protocol for long-term care, including assisted living, to help reduce Emergency Department (ED) admissions and potential lengthy hospital stays for residents.
Older adults have a high prevalence of diabetes and hypoglycemia is the number #1 side effect for those who take insulin. Glucagon can be given to prevent the blood sugar from dropping too low, and if administered timely, can help prevent the need for emergency services.
This protocol used recent guidance from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the Endocrine Society and states that anyone taking insulin and/or sulfonylureas should have glucagon available, know when it should be administered, and which glucagon option to use.
Both the ADA and the Endocrine Society recommend that residents should have access to the new ready-to-use glucagon that does not require mixing. This glucagon resembles an EpiPen, eliminating the need to mix solution, load it into a vial and deliver it by syringe. The FDA approved Gvoke HypoPen, which makes administering the glucagon easy and fast, and also allows assisted living residents access, where previously they relied on emergency medical services at the hospital ED for treatment. In a 2021 study published by PubMed® it was reported that long-term care residents who had a hypoglycemia event spent an average of 8 days in the hospital at a cost of $19,800.
“I have served as a diabetes educator for many years and am excited to see this new hypoglycemia management protocol and ready-to-use glucagon. It is going to be such a benefit for long-term care and assisted living residents and the facilities to be able to treat in place and reduce the need for emergency services. A ‘win-win’ for all!” – Dee Kaser, RN, CDCES, Great Plains QIN Quality Improvement Advisor.