Background Hospital inpatient care is frequently mentioned by parents as unsatisfactory for children with diabetes. Ward staff are now less familiar with diabetes, as admissions are less common and diabetes management is more intensive.
Objective To compare current practice with Department of Health Children's Diabetes Working Group care standards.
Methods This audit surveyed the organisation of inpatient care for children with diabetes in three regional networks in southern England, and was funded by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership.
Results All 27 services completed the questionnaire. Protocols for diabetic ketoacidosis, surgery, new diagnosis and hypoglycaemia were generally available on wards (70% had all four protocols) but less available in emergency departments (EDs) (52%). Trained children's nurses worked on every shift in children's wards (100%) but not necessarily in EDs (33%). Diabetes link nurses were identified on 74% of wards and 61% of high-dependency units (HDUs), and diabetes specialist nurses have inpatient liaison in their job description (89%) and working role (93%). Standards achieved less often were access to dietetic advice on wards (37%), education sessions for ED and ward staff, and informing diabetes team (only 26% within 2 h of admission during the day, and only 11% would contact the diabetes consultant overnight for a child admitted to a paediatric intensive care unit/HDU). Half of centres reported insulin errors.
Conclusions This first audit of children's diabetes inpatient care organisation demonstrates that some standards can be achieved, but others, such as having children's nurses on every shift in EDs, lack of dietetic advice to ward staff, and liaison with the diabetes team quickly out of hours, are more challenging. Further planned audit outcomes are to produce patient and parent literature for children admitted to hospital and to refine the standards further.
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