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Mandatory protocol for treating adult patients with diabetic ketoacidosis decreases intensive care unit and hospital lengths of stay: results of a nonrandomized trial.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the effect of a mandatory protocol for treating diabetic ketoacidosis.

DESIGN: Chart review of patients treated before and after protocol implementation.

SETTING: University-affiliated U.S. public teaching hospital.

PATIENTS: A total of 241 consecutive nonpregnant patients >18 yrs old admitted to a medical intensive care unit for diabetic ketoacidosis between January 2000 and January 2005.

INTERVENTION: Implementation of a mandatory treatment protocol in May 2003.

MEASUREMENTS: Intensive care unit and hospital lengths of stay, time to correction of anion gap and ketone clearance, and hypoglycemic episodes.

RESULTS: Before protocol implementation, the mean +/- sd intensive care unit and hospital lengths of stay were 44 +/- 28 hrs and 91 +/- 73 hrs, respectively. After implementation, intensive care unit and hospital lengths of stay decreased 23% and 30%, to 34 +/- 18 hrs and 64 +/- 41 hrs, respectively (both p < .007). Time to anion gap closure and ketone clearance also decreased (both p < .05). No difference in the number of hypoglycemic episodes was observed.

CONCLUSION: Implementing a mandatory protocol for treating adult patients with diabetic ketoacidosis decreases intensive care and hospital lengths of stay and time to anion gap closure and ketone clearance, without increasing the rate of hypoglycemia.

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