Management of dexamethasone-induced hyperglycemia in patients undergoing chemotherapy in an outpatient setting: a best practice implementation project

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Objectives:The objective of this project was to implement best practice in an outpatient clinical setting in order to increase both nursing staff and patients’ knowledge and awareness on the importance of blood sugar management during chemotherapy and to show that through compliance with best practice, the incidence of dexamethasone-induced hyperglycemia during chemotherapy can be minimized.Introduction:Steroid-induced hyperglycemia is a commonly neglected symptom in cancer treatment, contributing to poor patient prognosis and extended hospital stay. Evidence shows that controlled blood sugar during chemotherapy is associated with improved patient outcomes and better tolerance to cancer treatment. For the purpose of this paper steroid-induced hyperglycemia will be referred to as dexamethasone-induced hyperglycemia.Methods:This project utilized the Joanna Briggs Institute Practical Application of Clinical Evidence System (JBI-PACES) and Getting Research into Practice (GRiP) audit tools to promote compliance in the clinical setting. Thirty patients participated in the audit, which was executed by nursing staff in the Medical Oncology Outpatient Unit at the Cancer Ambulatory and Community Health Support Department at the Canberra Hospital.Results:The baseline audit revealed large gaps between best practice and current practice. This underlined the need for more education for both nursing staff and patients. Other barriers such as the absence of assessment and documentation by the clinicians and the minimum number of potential referrals to the diabetes educator were addressed by encouraging patients to speak about their diabetes, and also in the development of a simplified referral process in order to have patients reviewed by the Diabetes Educator in a timely manner. There were significant improvements after more information sessions were held and more resources made available to both nursing staff and patients, but there were also minimal to zero compliance drop on parts of the follow-up audit.Conclusions:In an attempt to improve patient outcome during chemotherapy, the project has succeeded in changing the attitude towards blood sugar control, and in increasing knowledge and awareness of dexamethasone-induced hyperglycemia among nursing staff and patients. However, there is room for improvement, based on the results of the implementation project. Future audits are planned to ensure sustainability.

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