Managing Diabetes Magazine - diabetes
Going Home from the Hospital
Questions to ask before you leave
No one enjoys being in hospital, and most people try their best to avoid staying there. Yet having diabetes makes you more likely to be hospitalized, especially if you are older. Most often, your stay would be related to complications of diabetes. These include cardiovascular disease (leading to heart problems or stroke), problems with blood circulation, infected wounds, amputations, kidney disease, and eye disease.
Managing diabetes well means always juggling food intake with activity and exercise. It also means checking blood glucose levels and talking to a doctor or diabetes educator when levels are not within target. Blood glucose levels that are too high or very low can result in a trip to the emergency room.
For those with type 1 diabetes, extremely high blood glucose levels may bring on diabetic ketoacidosis. This is a life-threatening condition in which the body burns fat for energy. Extremely low blood glucose levels (hypoglycemia) can lead to loss of consciousness, seizures and in extreme cases, death. To avoid either extreme, be aware of symptoms of high and low blood glucose levels, test your levels regularly, and take your medications exactly as prescribed.
If you have been in hospital, these tips may help you to get (and hopefully stay) out.
Those who are actively involved in their own care recover faster.
Ask questions before you leave
- What signs and symptoms can you watch for to help recognize the problem that brought you into the hospital?
- How are your blood glucose levels?
- What is your blood pressure?
- What are your cholesterol levels?
- Would using a logbook to record your levels and test results be helpful?
- Were any changes made to your medications or insulin while you were in hospital?
- If you are taking a new medication, does it replace or should it be taken in addition to medications you were on before being hospitalized?
- What is the dosage of your medications? How many times each day should you take them?
- Are your medications or insulin to be taken with or before meals?
- What are the side effects of your medications?
- What warning signs mean you should contact your health care team?
- Have your blood glucose or blood pressure goals changed?
- What is the plan for how you are to treat high and low blood glucose levels?
Be aware of available resources
- Consider talking to a pharmacist diabetes educator.
- Ask if written information is available for you to take home.
- Think about whether you should update your blood glucose monitoring skills or habits.
- If you are unfamiliar with giving yourself insulin injections, get help so that you can do so more smoothly.
- Ask the in-hospital diabetes educator to meet with you and your family.
- As well, consider meeting with the home care (transition services) coordinator to discuss your needs once you are back in the community.
- Ask for a referral to the local Diabetes Education Centre, so you can see an endocrinologist and a dietitian after you are discharged from hospital.
- Plan to meet with your family doctor to discuss the reason for hospitalization and any changes that have been made to your care plan.
- Consider speaking to a social worker if you have concerns about financial resources to cover your medical needs.
Be actively involved
- Practice testing your blood glucose levels in the hospital, especially if your skills need a refresher. Ask a health care provider to watch your technique.
- Do your own injections with insulin pens or syringes to make sure you are comfortable with the technique.
- Record your blood glucose levels and other test results in your logbook.
- If your meter is Bluetooth compatible, sync it with your smartphone regularly.
- Know which doctors’ offices and pharmacies in your community have diabetes education services.
- Make a list of phone numbers you can use after discharge. You might include your doctor, the Diabetes Education Centre, and a home care contact.
- Ask for a printout of your current medications. Take it to your community pharmacy, so they can update your file and list any changes that were made.
- If you plan to talk to a dietitian about nutrition, keep a food diary for two weeks once you are back at home.
By preparing before you leave the hospital, you can feel confident once you are finally discharged. Many studies have shown that those who are actively involved in their own care recover faster. With your input, your care can be tailored to meet your individual needs. Good luck and stay well!
While effort is made to reflect accepted medical knowledge and practice, articles in Family Health Online should not be relied upon for the treatment or management of any specified medical problem or concern and Family Health accepts no liability for reliance on the articles. For proper diagnosis and care, you should always consult your family physician promptly. © Copyright 2019, Family Health Magazine, a special publication of the Edmonton Journal, a division of Postmedia Network Inc., 10006 - 101 Street, Edmonton, AB T5J 0S1 [DI_MDab18]