The Benefits of Pharmacy Care for Diabetes Patients

Glycemic control program led by pharmacists linked to improved outcomes for diabetes patients after surgery

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh

(RxWiki News) If you have diabetes, your pharmacist may be one of the best sources of help in managing your blood sugar.

At least that's the takeaway from a new study from Kaiser Permanente that looked at the effects of a pharmacy-led glycemic (blood sugar) control program on diabetes patients who had surgery both before and after the program began.

Researchers found that the patients who participated in the program were more than twice as likely to have well-controlled blood sugar after surgery than the patients who didn't. Participating patients also had fewer postsurgical complications, hospital readmissions and ER visits.

"Patients with diabetes and uncontrolled blood sugar are more likely to have complications after surgery, such as wound infections that can land them back in the hospital," said lead study author David Mosen, PhD, a researcher at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, in a press release.

As part of the program, which began in 2009, every surgical patient at the Kaiser Permanente Sunnyside Medical Center in Portland, OR, was given a blood sugar screening when they entered the hospital.

Both patients with diabetes and patients who developed stress-induced hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) as a result of surgery were then referred to a glycemic control team. The glycemic control team included hospital pharmacists who managed the patients' blood sugar.

For this study, Dr. Mosen and team compared the results of 4,811 patients from the program's first year to 5,465 patients from the program's second year. These groups were then compared to 1,277 patients from the year before the program launched. Potentially confounding factors like other health issues and socioeconomic factors were accounted for.

Participating patients were more than twice as likely to have well-controlled blood sugar the day after surgery and 69 percent less likely to have hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in the three days following surgery. These patients were also 33 percent less likely to be readmitted to the hospital and 28 percent less likely to visit the ER in the three months after discharge.

According to Dr. Mosen and team, this is the first study to find that a pharmacist-based glycemic control program could potentially improve outcomes for diabetes patients after surgery.

This study was published Oct. 27 in the American Journal of Pharmacy Benefits.

No funding sources or conflicts of interest were disclosed.

Review Date: 
October 26, 2015
Last Updated:
October 27, 2015