BC Patient Safety & Quality Council


  • Initiate a regional written policy to prevent hyperglycemia in all adult surgical/medical ICU patients with or without diabetes mellitus
  • Use a validated written or computerized protocol/algorithm for an intravenous insulin regimen that allows for predefined adjustments in the insulin infusion rate based on glucose levels and insulin dosage. If your ICU does not currently have a glucose protocol/algorithm, check our resources page for samples of protocols with demonstrated safety and efficacy, which you can adapt to fit your local context
  • Use the insulin protocol to control blood glucose below a threshold of 10.0 mmol/L1. Avoid hypoglycemic events (reporting threshold of <3.5 mmol/L)
  • Do not attempt to tightly control glucose to achieve targets of normoglycemia (blood glucose levels of 4.4 to 6.1 mmol/L)2. Strict glucose control has been associated with increased hypoglycemic events, which may increase mortality1
  • Identify and collect data on balancing measures, to monitor for unintended consequences of improvement efforts. These should include safety measures, particularly for episodes of severe hypoglycemia
  • Ensure that all physicians, nurses, hospital pharmacists, dieticians and other clinical staff in the ICU have been trained in the insulin regimes. Support ongoing peer discussion and provider education
  • Work within your local context to use strategies to increase compliance with your organization’s policy, including the use of computer decision support systems, provider reminder systems, preprinted orders, auditing and feedback
  • Use an identify-and-mitigate strategy to immediately remedy patients who are not on the protocol, or do not have appropriate glycemic control. Provide real-time clinician feedback. Analyze and eliminate system failures
  • Engage and involve patients and families in their glycemic care

In order to achieve these goals, teams working on glycemic control should set specific goals and target outcomes, measure and analyze data, and revise for continual improvement and sustainability. This can be accomplished using quality improvement processes and methodology.


  1. NICE-SUGAR Study Investigators, Finfer S, Chittock DR, Su Sy, et al. Intensive versus conventional glucose control in critically ill patients. NEJM. 2009 Mar 26;360 (13): 1283-1297.
  2. Qaseem A, Humphrey LL, Chou R, et al. Use of intensive insulin therapy for the management of glycemic control in hospitalized patients: A clinical practice guidelines from the American College of Physicians. Ann Intern Med. 2011;154:260-267.

At a Glance

Key Contacts

Vinay Dhingra
Clinical Lead

Kate Harris
Quality Leader