AIMS To define outcome measures for auditing the clinical care of children and adolescents with insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) and to assess the benefit of appointing a dedicated paediatric trained diabetes specialist nurse (PDSN).
METHODS Retrospective analysis of medical notes and hospital records. Glycaemic control, growth, weight gain, microvascular complications, school absence, and the proportion of children undergoing an annual clinical review and diabetes education session were assessed. The effect of the appointment of a PDSN on the frequency of hospital admission, length of inpatient stay, and outpatient attendance was evaluated.
RESULTS Children with IDDM were of normal height and grew well for three years after diagnosis, but grew suboptimally thereafter. Weight gain was above average every year after diagnosis. Glycaemic control was poor at all ages with only 16% of children having an acceptable glycated haemoglobin. Eighty five per cent of patients underwent a formal annual clinical review, of whom 16% had background retinopathy and 20% microalbuminuria in one or more samples. After appointing the PDSN the median length of hospital stay for newly diagnosed patients decreased from five days to one day, with 10 of 24 children not admitted. None of the latter was admitted during the next year. There was no evidence of the PDSN affecting the frequency of readmission or length of stay of children with established IDDM. Non-attendance at the outpatient clinic was reduced from a median of 19 to 10%.
CONCLUSIONS Outcome measures for evaluating the care of children with IDDM can be defined and evaluated. Specialist nursing support markedly reduces the length of hospital stay of newly diagnosed patients without sacrificing the quality of care.
- diabetes education
- glycaemic control
- outpatient attendance
- hospital admission
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