Switching to subcutaneous supplemental insulin
Instructions must be given for switching to subcutaneous supplemental doses of insulin. Glycemic targets, generally from less than 130 to 150 mg/dL, must be established, as must the frequency of fingerstick testing:
- If the patient is being fed enterally or parenterally, fingerstick testing is recommended every 4 to 6 hours if a rapid-acting insulin analog is used and every 6 hours if regular insulin is used.
- If the patient is eating, fingerstick testing should be performed before meals and at bedtime.
Covering nutritional requirements
Nutrition-related insulin needs depend on the type of caloric intake prescribed:
In patients receiving total parenteral nutrition (TPN) , start 1 U of regular insulin (placed in the bag) for every 10 to 15 g of dextrose in the TPN mixture.
In patients receiving enteral nutrition , use regular insulin every 6 hours or a rapid-acting insulin analog every 4 hours. Start 1 U of insulin subcutaneously for every 10 to 15 g of delivered carbohydrates. For example, if a patient is receiving 10 g of carbohydrates per hour, a rapid-acting analog given at a dose of 4 U every 4 hours (1 U per 10 g of carbohydrates) should adequately cover enteral feedings. For any bolus feedings, give the injection as a full bolus 15 to 20 minutes in advance, based on the carbohydrate content of the feeding.
In patients who are eating , use regular insulin or a rapid-acting insulin analog before meals. Again, start 1 U of insulin subcutaneously for every 10 to 15 g of carbohydrates, or use the prandial portion of the Miami 4/12 rule ( Figure 2 ). For example, in a 60-kg patient one would start with 5 U (60 ÷ 12) of a rapid-acting insulin before each meal.
Basal/bolus replacement outperforms supplemental-scale regular insulin
Use of a basal/bolus insulin regimen appears to be more beneficial than supplemental-scale regular insulin in hospitalized patients with type 2 diabetes, according to a recent randomized trial comparing the two approaches in 130 such patients with blood glucose levels greater than 140 mg/dL. 17 In the group randomized to basal/bolus insulin, the starting total daily dose was 0.4 to 0.5 U/kg/day, with half the dose given as basal insulin (insulin glargine) once daily and half given as a rapid-acting insulin analog (glulisine) in fixed doses before every meal. A rapid-acting analog was used for supplemental insulin in the basal/bolus regimen. By study’s end, patients in the basal/bolus group were receiving a higher total daily insulin dose than those in the supplemental-scale group (mean of 42 U/day vs 13 U/day).
Mean daily blood glucose levels were 27 mg/dL lower, on average, in patients who received basal/bolus therapy compared with the supplemental-scale group, yet there was no difference between groups in the risk of hypoglycemia. More patients randomized to basal/bolus therapy achieved the glycemic goal of less than 140 mg/dL (66% vs 38%). Fourteen percent of patients assigned to supplemental-scale insulin had values persistently greater than 240 mg/dL and had to be switched to the basal/bolus regimen. 17