Royal Oldham Diabetes team net insulin safety award

Date published: 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:

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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. 

5. 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.”

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