Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine whether initial serum glucose levels, therapeutic responses to intravenous glucose replacement and changes in serum glucose levels over time could predict serum glucose patterns. Methods: The patients enrolled in this retrospective chart review had been previously diagnosed with diabetes mellitus and were later hospitalised for severe hypoglycaemia (SH). They were all admitted to the emergency department (ED) during a 4-year period between January 2003 and December 2006. Comparison of the therapeutic responses to glucose replacement according to the serum glucose patterns [categorised into recurrent hypoglycaemia (RH), overshoot hyperglycaemia (OH) and favourable groups] during the first 48 h was performed. Results: Compared with the favourable group, therapeutic responses to glucose replacement were significantly lower in the RH group and higher in the OH group; the changes in serum glucose levels over time were also significantly lower in the RH group and higher in the OH group. Conclusion: Therapeutic responses to glucose replacement and changes in serum glucose levels over time can differentiate diabetic patients with RH and OH from those with favourable glucose patterns during the first 48 h after presentation in the ED with SH. We believe that a 'response-to-treatment' based strategy is useful in determining the ED disposition of diabetic patients presenting with SH.
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