Hello, I am Helen and am a research paramedic from Beccles in Suffolk. I am really pleased to have been given the opportunity to blog for World Diabetes Day about our innovative diabetes hypo referral project.
What is a diabetes hypo? Diabetes hypoglycaemic episode – or hypo as we generally refer to it in the ambulance service – is where your blood glucose drops too low and unrecognised this could lead to dizziness, nausea, seizures or even unconsciousness.
Last year the ambulance service was approached by the Eastern Academic Health Science Network (EAHSN) to work with us in providing education to all hypo patients we attend as a result of a 999 call. This was a great opportunity for us to really improve the care that we give our diabetes patients.
Each diabetes hypo patient is referred by our crews to receive education from a diabetes educator about their disease and how they could manage it better, so hopefully they won’t have to call 999 in the future. Diabetes consultants, nurses and paramedics worked together to develop an information leaflet which is also given out to all diabetes hypo patients by EEAST crews.
Two examples of how the education has had a beneficial effect on our patients include one patient who was having around 20 hypos a month, calling out an ambulance each time. As a result of this referral, the patient is now getting support from their diabetic specialist nurse with self-managing their insulin pump, and has not required any further assistance to treat a hypo event. Another patient collapsed in his garden due to a diabetic hypo. Usually he has very good diabetic control and didn’t realise that working in the garden all day and not eating very much would put him at increased risk of a hypo. He and his wife attended an education session and prevention of hypos was discussed in detail. He felt more informed regarding treatment and prevention of hypo and has not had to call 999 since.
We have now been using the referral pathway for 11 months and our ambulance crews have referred more than 1,400 diabetes patients. This means that 1,400 people with diabetes have received education which is already changing the way their diabetes is managed. I think that this is fantastic news and believe that every crew member who has referred a patient should feel proud of the positive difference they are making to their patients.
If you would like more information about diabetes please follow the link https://www.diabetes.org.uk/