• Implementation of a Pediatric-Based Algorithm to Improve Care of Symptomatic Hypoglycemia

      Arjoon, Amanda V.; Fitzgerald, Jennifer (2021-05)
      Problem & Purpose: Hypoglycemia in childhood is a low frequency, high-risk event that can lead to coma, seizures, and even death. Symptomatic hypoglycemia occurs when plasma glucose levels are low enough to cause signs and symptoms of impaired neurological function, increasing risk of neurogenic sequalae. In the pediatric emergency department at an urban academic medical center in the Mid-Atlantic region, delays in treatment occur due to pediatric-specific barriers including time intensive, weight-based calculations for drug doses and availability of multiple dextrose concentrations. Although there is no national benchmark for comparison, the average time from identification of symptomatic hypoglycemia to treatment on this unit is 35 minutes. The purpose of this quality improvement project was to implement an algorithm for treatment of symptomatic hypoglycemia for pediatric patients between one and five years of age in the proposed setting. Methods: An algorithm was created based on recommendations from the Pediatric Endocrine Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other accredited organizations. Thirty-two small educational sessions with 59 nurses and three physician assistants were conducted over two months to provide education on algorithm use. Anonymous pre- and post-surveys were administered during the educational sessions to assess for improvements in knowledge of evidence-based care for symptomatic pediatric hypoglycemia patients. The primary outcome was to reduce time from symptomatic hypoglycemia identification to enteral or parental treatment. Results: The sample size (N=4) was smaller than expected due to a significantly reduced census on this unit during the COVID-19 pandemic. Three males and one female met inclusion criteria, with a mean age of 2.75 years. The mean time to treatment was reduced to 6.5 minutes. The most observed symptom was nausea, which appeared in all four cases. Nearly 93% of staff demonstrated improved knowledge in caring for pediatric symptomatic hypoglycemic patients through improved survey scores after the educational sessions. Conclusion: Findings suggest that use of a standardized algorithm contributes to reducing the time from identification of symptomatic hypoglycemia to time of treatment. All patients meeting inclusion criteria received interventions consistent with the algorithm. Future directions include expanding implementation of an algorithm to incorporate pediatric patients of all ages.