May 1 (UPI) -- People with diabetes and low blood sugar levels have a 40 percent higher risk of hospital readmission after discharge, a new study says.
Diabetes patients with blood sugar levels below 100 milligrams per deciliter had higher 30-day readmission rates after discharge than those with normal levels, according to research published Wednesday in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. They also had higher 30, 90 and 180-day post-discharge death rates, as well as higher combined 30-day readmission and death rates when their blood sugar levels were low.
The researchers say the burden of hospital readmissions cost the U.S. healthcare system about $25 million annually.
"In our novel nationwide study, we examined data of almost 1 million hospitalizations at the VA Health care system," Elias Spanakis, a researcher at the Baltimore VA Medical Center and study author, said in a news release. "We found that patients with diabetes who are discharged with low or even near normal glucose values during the last day of the hospital stay are at a higher risk of dying or being readmitted to the hospital."
To gather their numbers, the researchers examined the readmission and death rates of more than 843,000 patients over 14 years.
In all, about 9.4 million people in the United States have diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Although future studies are needed, physicians should avoid discharging patients with diabetes from the hospital until glucose values above 100 mg/dl are achieved during the last day of the hospitalization," Spanakis said.