Background. Intensive glycemic control confers increased risk of hypoglycemia and little benefit among older individuals with diabetes. The aim of this quality improvement project was to reduce the number of patients treated to A1C levels that might confer greater risk than benefit (i.e., potential overtreatment) in the VA New England Healthcare System.
Methods. A provider report and clinical reminder were created to identify potentially overtreated patients and prompt clinicians to consider treatment de-intensification. Potentially overtreated patients were defined as those on insulin or a sulfonylurea whose most recent A1C was <7.0% and who were >74 years of age or diagnosed with dementia or cognitive impairment. The numbers of patients screened and whose treatment was de-intensified using the clinical reminder were counted from January to December 2014. The number of high-risk veterans at baseline was compared with that 6 and 18 months after implementation using t tests.
Results. A total of 2,830 patients were screened using the clinical reminder; 9.6% had their glycemic treatment de-intensified. Among the 261 patients reporting hypoglycemia, 37% had their treatment de-intensified. Higher percentages of patients had treatment de-intensified when reported symptoms were more severe. The monthly average in the high-risk cohort declined from baseline by 18% at 6 months and by 22% at 18 months (both P <0.005).
Conclusions. A clinical reminder helps clinicians identify and reduce the number of potentially overtreated patients. The large number of screened patients whose treatment was not de-intensified suggests that a clinical reminder should be combined with provider education, national guidelines, and performance measures aligned in the interest of reducing potential overtreatment.
- © 2017 by the American Diabetes Association.
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