Hyperglycemia (elevated blood sugar level) is associated with poor outcomes. The definition of hyperglycemia varies. However, The American Diabetes Association Expert Committee on the Diagnosis and Classification of Diabetes Mellitus defines hyperglycemia as a fasting blood glucose greater than or equal to 126 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl)or a random blood glucose greater than or equal to 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) occurring during hospitalization.
Hyperglycemia is common in people admitted to hospitals and is easier to treat if detected early. It can result from changes in medications, increased nutrient intake, and physical or emotional stress. Some individuals with hyperglycemia will develop diabetes while others will not.
Historically, high blood glucose in hospitalized persons has been tolerated in part due to fear of causing dangerously low blood glucose from over treating the high glucose levels. Current research indicates that aggressive management using insulin is the safest treatment for most people with hyperglycemia (Diabetes Care, January 2006, 29(1); S4-S42).
Careful hyperglycemia management of hospitalized persons also improves clinical outcomes such as infection and mortality among surgical patients (Diabetes Spectrum. 2005, 18; 20-27).
The American College of Endocrinology (ACE), the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), and other organizations endorse the need for early detection of hyperglycemia and aggressive treatment approaches (Diabetes Care, February, 2004, 27; 553-591).