Diabetes Management in Emergency Medical Services (EMS)

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10 Questions

What is the recommended action to manage hyperglycemia in EMS?

Offer clear, non-carbonated fluids

How should EMS teams prioritize diabetes management in a patient with both hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia?

First prioritize hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia management

What is a symptom of hyperglycemia that EMS teams should recognize?

Slow-healing wounds

Which procedure is NOT part of the Basic Life Support (BLS) level procedures for diabetes patients according to the text?


What is a symptom that distinguishes hypoglycemia from hyperglycemia?

Frequent urination

What is the blood glucose level threshold for hypoglycemia?

70 mg/dL or below

Which of the following is a symptom of hypoglycemia?


In EMS, what is the initial step when treating hypoglycemia?

Assess safety of the environment

What is the blood glucose level threshold for hyperglycemia?

Above 130 mg/dL

Which symptom is characteristic of hyperglycemia?

Increased thirst

Study Notes

Diabetes Management in Emergency Medical Services (EMS)

Managing diabetes during emergencies requires a combination of swift recognition, accurate assessment, and appropriate interventions from Emergency Medical Services (EMS) teams. Understanding hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia's symptoms and effective treatments is crucial for providing high-quality care in this context.

Hypoglycemia Treatment

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, occurs when blood glucose levels drop below 70 mg/dL. Symptoms include weakness, trembling, confusion, and seizures. To treat hypoglycemia in EMS, follow these steps:

  1. Assess safety: Ensure the patient is in a safe environment and cannot harm themselves.
  2. Administer glucose: Give the patient 15 grams of glucose, such as 15 ml of 25% dextrose gel, 3-4 glucose tablets, or 1/2 cup of fruit juice.
  3. Recheck glucose: After 15 minutes, retest the patient's blood glucose, and if it's still below 70 mg/dL, administer another 15 grams of glucose.
  4. Monitor the patient: Continue to assess the patient for signs of improvement and stability.
  5. Consult the patient's medical records: If available, refer to the patient's diabetes care plan for additional information on their usual glucose targets and preferred glucose sources.

Hyperglycemia Treatment

Hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, occurs when blood glucose levels are above 130 mg/dL. Symptoms include increased thirst, frequent urination, and fatigue. To manage hyperglycemia in EMS, follow these steps:

  1. Assess safety: Ensure the patient is in a safe environment and cannot harm themselves.
  2. Provide hydration: Offer the patient water or clear, non-carbonated fluids.
  3. Monitor glucose: Continuously monitor the patient's blood glucose levels.
  4. Administer insulin: If the patient is known to be on insulin and their glucose levels are dangerously high (usually > 300 mg/dL), administer a rapid-acting insulin (e.g., insulin aspart or insulin glulisine) with 0.1 units per kg of body weight, not to exceed 10 units.
  5. Consult the patient's medical records: If available, refer to the patient's diabetes care plan for additional information on their usual insulin regimen, glucose targets, and preferred insulin sources.

Diabetes Management in EMS

In addition to managing hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia, EMS teams should consider the following aspects of diabetes management:

  1. Recognize the patient's condition: Confirm if the patient is known to have diabetes or is experiencing symptoms consistent with diabetes.
  2. Assess the patient's mental status: Evaluate the patient's cognitive function and level of consciousness.
  3. Identify the patient's diabetes management plan: Refer to available medical records or query the patient about their usual diabetes care plan, medications, and equipment.
  4. Monitor vital signs: Continuously track blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, and pulse oximetry.
  5. Stabilize the patient: Prioritize hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia management, as well as the treatment of any other underlying conditions or injuries.

Basic Life Support (BLS) Level Procedures for Diabetes

EMS teams should perform basic life support procedures for diabetes patients, such as:

  • Airway management
  • Chest compressions
  • Defibrillation
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation

These procedures should be performed in conjunction with diabetes management, as necessary.

Recognizing Symptoms of Hypoglycemia and Hyperglycemia

Knowing the symptoms of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia is essential for EMS teams to effectively manage diabetes. Symptoms of hypoglycemia include:

  • Weakness
  • Trembling
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Hunger
  • Sweating
  • Irritability

Symptoms of hyperglycemia include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow-healing wounds
  • Frequent infections

Recognizing these symptoms can help EMS teams quickly intervene and manage diabetes-related emergencies.

Confidence in recognizing and managing diabetes-related emergencies is essential for EMS teams, as diabetes is a common chronic condition among the population. By following the outlined steps, EMS personnel can provide timely and effective care to diabetes patients, enhancing their chances of recovery and improving their overall well-being.

Learn about managing diabetes emergencies in Emergency Medical Services (EMS), including recognizing symptoms of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia, appropriate treatments, and essential procedures. Enhance your knowledge to provide high-quality care to diabetes patients in emergency situations.

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