February 18, 2019 – Emergency and Diabetes


Anchor lead: People with diabetes visit the emergency department a lot, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Diabetes tops the list for medical conditions among older frequent users of emergency departments, a recent national study revealed. Rita Kalyani, a diabetes expert at Johns Hopkins, isn’t surprised by the results.

Kalyani: What I think the study indicates is that we need to better understand why people with diabetes account for such a great proportion of these high frequency users to the emergency room. I would be interested to know what treatments they’re on which wasn’t recorded in this study. We do know that people who use insulin for instance are more likely to visit the emergency room and if that is indeed the case then that is something that we could explore further in other studies, particularly as it relates to low blood glucose or hypoglycemia in older adults.  :29

The study notes that adults 65 and older represent about 15% of all emergency department visits nationally, and that such patients stay longer, and typically require more interventions and resources than other groups.  Kalyani says one-fourth of adults over 65 have diabetes, so understanding why they end up in the ED is crucial. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.