Royal Oldham Diabetes Team receive award for insulin safety improvements

Diabetes Team Insulin Safety Improvement Award
Royal Oldham Diabetes Team receive award for insulin safety improvements
26 November 2018

The Diabetes Team at The Royal Oldham Hospital are celebrating after being awarded runners up position in this year’s Insulin Safety Week Excellence Awards 2018.

The team were commended by the judging panel for ‘going above and beyond’ for their patients and for their hard work in promoting the importance of insulin safety awareness with patients and staff.

Diabetes Specialist Nurses at the hospital have been working hard to raise awareness about the importance of insulin being correctly administered at mealtimes, to help patients avoid medication errors occurring during their stay in hospital. Insulin errors are the third most common cause of serious harm or death in hospitals. One in six people in hospital have diabetes and a third of inpatients with diabetes have a medication error during their stay. As a result, insulin safety is a high priority for many hospitals. 

The Diabetes Team have been improving inpatient diabetes care as part of a wider quality improvement initiative, which has seen a big focus on how diabetes patients are cared for during their time in hospital. The team have been working with two test wards at Oldham (Wards F7 and F10) and three wards at Fairfield General Hospital (Wards 7, 20 and 24) to deliver improvements and more personalised care for diabetes patients.

Key improvements being introduced for diabetes patients include:

  • All patients with diabetes being clearly identified with use of a red apple on their patient chart. This acts as a prompt to hospital staff to check blood glucose levels and ensure that medication is given correctly at mealtimes.
  • The introduction of an ‘insulin buddy’ system, which ensures that patients receive their insulin to coincide with their mealtimes. At handover, ’insulin buddies’ work with a qualified nurse to identify those patients requiring insulin therapy. They assist in checking and administering the insulin to patients at mealtimes to ensure they receive insulin at the right time. There is a very short timeframe of 20 minutes for patients to receive their insulin at mealtimes for the insulin to be effective and avoid variability in their blood glucose levels.
  • Encouraging patients to self-manage and administer their own medication. Nursing staff are working with the pharmacy team to undertake a review of patients’ medication as part of initial admin processes when a patient comes to hospital, which will assess the patient’s medication needs and encourage them to administer their own medication, where possible.
  • Ensuring all diabetes inpatients have a complete foot assessment to identify any potential issues and ensure they are quickly referred to podiatry services, where required. 
  • Targeted training on diabetes care and treatment for general nursing staff to increase their knowledge and use of best practice.

The Diabetes Team are happy at having their efforts to improve insulin safety recognised nationally. Linda Adams, Lead Nurse Diabetes, said: “We are thrilled at having the work we do recognised nationally. As a team, we’ve set ambitious targets to reduce the number of patients affected by diabetes related harm and the test wards are helping us to introduce a number of improvements to the care received by patients with diabetes. We’ve been working hard to improve insulin safety awareness amongst both patients and staff. It plays such an important role in ensuring that patients receive high quality, safe and personalised care when they come into hospital and initiatives like the insulin buddy system are helping to ensure that we keep diabetes patients safe and well.”

Patient Story – Case Study

One patient’s story highlights the importance of patients understanding the importance of insulin safety in managing their diabetes well. Geoffrey Thacker, 70, was admitted to the Royal Oldham Hospital in May 2018. An ex-trucker, Geoffrey has had Type 1 diabetes for over 50 years. He uses an insulin pump and calculates the amount of carbohydrates eaten at each meal, to work out how much insulin to take. Geoffrey is normally able to manage his diabetes well after living with diabetes for 50 years, and after attending a Dafne course, which taught him how to calculate how much insulin to administer at mealtimes.

However, when he was recently admitted to hospital, this regime was disrupted until nurses on the ward were informed by the Diabetes Team about the importance of insulin safety and the short window in which it had to be administered. Geoffrey spoke to the Diabetes Team, who worked with ward staff to ensure that Geoffrey received his insulin at the right time around mealtimes. Geoffrey is now back home successfully managing his diabetes with the help of his wife. Geoffrey’s case highlights the importance of patients being clearly identified as a patient with diabetes upon their arrival at hospital to ensure that they receive the right dose of insulin at the right time during their stay in hospital.