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Improving post-hypoglycaemic patient safety in the prehospital environment: a systematic review
  1. D Fitzpatrick,
  2. E A S Duncan
  1. NMAHP Research Unit, The University of Stirling, Stirling, UK
  1. Mr D Fitzpatrick, Scottish Ambulance Service NMAHP Research Unit, Iris Murdoch Building, The University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, Scotland, UK; david.fitzpatrick{at}


To determine the extent to which post-hypoglycaemic patients with diabetes, who are prescribed oral hypoglycaemic agents (OHA) are at risk of repeat hypoglycaemic events (RHE) after being treated in the prehospital environment and whether they should be transported to hospital regardless of their post-treatment response, a systematic literature review was carried out using an overlapping retrieval strategy that included both published and unpublished literature. Retrieved papers were reviewed by each author for inclusion. Disagreements regarding inclusion were resolved through discussion. Ninety-eight papers and other relevant material were retrieved using the developed search strategy. Twenty-three papers and other relevant material were included in the final review. A narrative synthesis of the findings is presented. Although several case reports demonstrate the risks associated with repeat or prolonged hypoglycaemia, the review was unable to locate any specific high quality research in this area. Consequently, caution is required in interpreting the findings of the studies. Post-hypoglycaemic patients treated in the prehospital environment have a 2–7% risk of experiencing a RHE within 48 h. The literature retrieved in this study recognises the potential for OHA to cause RHE. However, the extent to which this occurs in practice remains unknown. This lack of evidence has led to the recommendation that conservative management, through admission to hospital, is appropriate. The review concludes with recommendations for both practice and research.

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  • Funding: This review was funded by the Scottish Ambulance Service/Nursing Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit.

  • Competing interests: None.

  • Ethics approval: None.