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Background: Many people with undiagnosed diabetes have hyperglycaemia when admitted to hospital. Inpatient hyperglycaemia can be an indication of diabetes mellitus but can also indicate a stress response. This study reports the extent to which an in-hospital maximum observed random glucose measurement is an indicator of the need for in-hospital (or subsequent) HbA1c measurement to look for undiagnosed diabetes. Methods: Blood glucose, HbA1c, age and sex were collected for all adults following admission to a UK NHS trust hospital from 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2020. We restricted the analysis to those participants who were registered with a GP practice that uses the trust laboratory and who had at least some tests requested by those practices since 2008. We stratified individuals according to their maximum in-hospital glucose measurement and report the number of these with HbA1c measurement ≥48 mmol/mol (6.5%) prior to the index admission, and during and after admission. We calculated an estimated proportion of individuals in each blood glucose stratum without a follow-up HbA1c who could have undiagnosed diabetes. Results: In toal, 764,241 glucose measurements were recorded for 81,763 individuals who were admitted to the Oxford University Hospitals Trust. The median (Q1, Q3) age was 70 (56, 81) years, and 53% were males. Of the population, 70.7% of individuals declared themselves to be of White ethnicity, 3.1% of Asian background, and 1.1% of Black background, with 23.1% unstated. Of those individuals, 22,375 (27.4%) had no previous HbA1c measurement recorded. A total of 1689 individuals had a diabetes-range HbA1c during or after their hospital admission (2.5%) while we estimate an additional 1496 (2.2%) may have undiagnosed diabetes, with the greatest proportion of these having an in-hospital glucose of ≥15 mmol/L. We estimate that the number needed to detect a possible new case of diabetes falls from 16 (in-hospital glucose 8 mmol/L to <9 mmol/L) to 4 (14 mmol/L to <15 mmol/L). Conclusion: The number of people who need to be tested to identify an individual who may have diabetes decreases as a testing threshold based on maximum in-hospital glucose concentration increases. Among those with hyperglycaemia and no previous HbA1c measurement in the diabetes range, there appears to be a lack of subsequent HbA1c measurement. This work identifies the potential for integrating the testing and follow-up of people, with apparently unrecognised hospital hyperglycaemia across primary and secondary care.

Original publication




Journal article


Diabetic Medicine

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