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Emergency DSNs cut admissions

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Putting diabetes specialist nurses (DSNs) in emergency medical units (EMU) could prevent unnecessary hospital admissions and significantly reduce the length of patient stay, say nurse researchers.

Over a 12-month period, DSNs from University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust made daily weekday visits to the EMU to proactively identify newly admitted patients with diabetes.

They reviewed 111 people with diabetes in the EMU and discharged 47 within 24 hours. They also provided specialist follow-up where needed, medication reviews, insulin initiation and self-management training.

The researchers said DSN involvement reduced the number of hospital days taken up caring for patients with diabetes at the trust by 42%.

With an average daily stay in a hospital bed costing around £215, replicating this scheme nationwide could save the NHS almost £100m a year.

Study author Helen Atkins, DSN at the trust, said: ‘People with diabetes are admitted to hospital twice as often and stay twice as long as those without diabetes, occupying one in ten hospital beds.

‘Our research shows how proactive DSN intervention can facilitate more appropriate care and help save money. In addition, our trial only used a DSN from Monday to Friday. Extending the service to weekends could generate even more savings,’ she added.

Maureen Wallymahmed, nurse consultant in diabetes at Aintree Hospital, Liverpool, said all patients with diabetes should be looked after by specialist diabetes nurses.

‘We don’t want to admit people with diabetes unnecessarily,’ she said.

‘Having a service in place that gets them home more quickly is beneficial to patient care and also helps relieve
the burden on acute services,’ she added.

Following the success of the year-long trial the Leicestershire trust has now implemented the service in A&E and other acute medical admissions units.

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