Variability in physician care practices for glucose treatment in stroke patients
Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences
Hyperglycemia is noted in up to 60% of stroke patients. Practice guidelines recommend glucose monitoring following stroke but provide few management recommendations. We examined physician care practices for glucose management in stroke patients. Emergency physicians, family physicians, general internists, intensive care specialists and neurologists in Ontario comprised the study population. A mailed, self-administered survey inquired about glucose management practices. Proportions of responses
... tions of responses for survey questions were determined. Chi-square analysis was used for comparing physician groups. Surveys were mailed to 2,280 physicians; 26.8% returned surveys. There were 278 respondents who reported providing stroke patient care. For physicians treating glucose in stroke patients, 16.6% targeted glucose 4.0-6.0 mmol/l, 52% targeted 6.1-8.0 mmol/l, 13.6% targeted 8.1-12.0 mmol/l, 0.8% targeted 12.1-15.0 mmol/l, and 7.5% were unsure. Comparing specialties, 32% of intensivists, 17.5% of neurologists, 13% of general internists, 14% of emergency physicians, and 0% of family physicians reported targeting 4.0-6.0 mmol/l (p=0.026). Overall, 44% reported aiming for target glucose within 12 hours and 77% within 24 hours from hospital presentation. Intensive care specialists treated glucose most aggressively, including 20% treating, with insulin infusion, patients with no diabetes and initial glucose 6.0-8.0 mmol/l. Emergency physicians were most conservative when treating glucose in stroke patients. There is variability in the aggressiveness of glucose management in stroke patients by different physician specialty groups, reflecting the lack of evidence available to guide hyperglycemia management in this setting. These results highlight an important gap in knowledge and recommendations for stroke patient care that must be addressed to ensure optimal patient outcomes.