When should a patient with acute hypoglycemia be discharged?

Updated: Dec 16, 2016
  • Author: Frank C Smeeks, III, MD; Chief Editor: Erik D Schraga, MD  more...
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Answer

Answer

For patients on either short-acting insulin or hypoglycemic agents who have not eaten and have had their hypoglycemia reversed rapidly, a high carbohydrate meal prior to discharge is recommended. Discharge may be considered after a high carbohydrate meal in the following situations:

  • An obvious cause is found and treated

  • The hypoglycemic episode is reversed rapidly

A competent adult who has been directed to monitor fingerstick glucose measurements closely during the remainder of the day should accompany the patient after discharge.

Discharging a patient following a hypoglycemic episode that is likely the result of a long-acting oral hypoglycemic medication is a potential pitfall. Any patient for whom the cause is not identified readily may have a recurrence of hypoglycemia with resultant sequelae.

Patients must be counseled as to the causes and the early signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia. This counseling is particularly important for those patients who have a history of prior episodes of hypoglycemia or who are newly diagnosed diabetics. General outpatient diabetic education or inpatient diabetic teaching is indicated.


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