ALL
Health Information and Tools > Health A-Z >  Checking your blood glucose (sugar) level while you’re in the hospital
Facebook Tweet Email Share

Main Content

Diabetes

Checking your blood glucose (sugar) level while you’re in the hospital

Your healthcare team will need to use a hospital-approved blood glucose meter to check your blood sugar level.

Your home glucose monitor

There are different types of glucose monitors that you may use to check your sugar (glucose) level at home. These include:

  • A blood glucose meter that measures the amount of sugar (glucose) in your blood.
  • A continuous glucose monitor (CGM) or a flash glucose monitor (Flash) that measures the amount of sugar in the fluid between your skin cells (called interstitial fluid).

These glucose monitors are approved for your use at home, but they’re not approved for use in Alberta hospitals. There are many things that can affect how well the glucose sensor on your home glucose monitor works during your hospital stay. For this reason, your healthcare team won’t be able to use the results from your home glucose monitor to make decisions about your care.

When you’re at home or in the hospital, it’s important to use blood sugar level results (not interstitial glucose level results) to make decisions about your care and treatment when you’re unwell or sick.

Hospital-approved blood glucose meters

All hospitals in Alberta need to follow Health Canada Standards. Health Canada approves the use of certain blood glucose meters for hospitals. These approved devices have to be checked every day to make sure they’re accurate and giving the right results. This helps to keep you and other patients safe.

While you’re in the hospital, your healthcare team will use a hospital-approved blood glucose meter to make decisions about:

  • your insulin doses
  • changes to your diabetes medicines
  • treatment of a low blood sugar level (called hypoglycemia)

Guidelines to keep you safe while you’re in the hospital

The following guidelines were developed by Alberta Health Services with the support of the Diabetes Canada Clinical Practice Guidelines to help keep you safe during your hospital stay.

Your care and treatment

Your healthcare team can’t use results from your home glucose monitor to decide when you need to take or adjust diabetes medicines (including insulin) or how to treat high and low blood sugar levels. See the information below and talk to your nurse about what you should do if you think you have a low blood sugar level while you’re in the hospital.

You can still use your home glucose monitor to watch for trends in your blood sugar levels and share them with your healthcare team.

If you think your blood sugar level is low

Call your nurse right away if you feel or think your blood sugar level is low. The nurse will check your blood sugar level with the hospital meter and help you treat it.

If a nurse doesn’t come right away, treat the low blood sugar level (if you’re able to) like you would at home (unless you’re fasting).

When the nurse comes, let them know you had a low blood sugar level and if you treated it. They’ll check your blood sugar level with the hospital blood glucose meter and let you know if you need to do anything else.

If you think your blood sugar level is low while you’re fasting

If you’re fasting (not drinking or eating anything for a certain amount of time), the treatment for a low blood sugar level may be different than what you do at home.

Talk to your nurse about a plan in case you have a low blood sugar level while you’re fasting.

If you use an insulin pump with a glucose sensor to manage your diabetes

You may still be able to use your insulin pump by following the guidelines at www.ipu​mpit.ca. But the results from the glucose sensor (if there’s one connected to your insulin pump) can’t be used to make decisions about your care and treatment in the hospital.

It’s important to use blood sugar level results from a hospital-approved meter to make decisions about your care and treatment.

If you have a glucose sensor and are having a x-ray, MRI or CT scan

If you have a glucose sensor, you’ll need to take it off if you’re having an x-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scan.

Blood sugar level targets in hospital

For most people in the hospital, the blood sugar level targets are between 5.0 and 10.0 mmol/L.

  • If you’re pregnant and in labour, the target is 4.0 to 7.0 mmol/L.
  • If you’re an older adult with poor health or have dementia, the target is 5.0 to 12.0 mmol/L.

Talk to your healthcare team if you think your target should be different.


Current as of: February 9, 2021

Author: Diabetes, Obesity, and Nutrition Strategic Clinical Network, Alberta Health Services