Individualizing Glycemic Control in the Critically Ill

Claire V. Murphy, Lina Saliba, Jennifer MacDermott, Kyaw Soe, Kathleen M. Dungan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Hyperglycemia is a common phenomenon in critically ill patients, even in those without diabetes. Two landmark studies established the benefits of tight glucose control (blood glucose target 80-110 mg/dL) in surgical and medical patients. Since then, literature has consistently demonstrated that both hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia are independently associated with increased morbidity and mortality in a variety of critically ill patients. However, tight glycemic control has subsequently come into question due to risks of hypoglycemia and increased mortality. More recently, strategies targeting euglycemia (blood glucose ≤180 mg/dL) have been associated with improved outcomes, although the risk of hypoglycemia remains. More complex targets (ie, glycemic variability and time within target glucose range) and the impact of individual patient characteristics (ie, diabetic status and prehospital glucose control) have more recently been shown to influence the relationship between glycemic control and outcomes in critically ill patients. Although our understanding has increased, the optimal glycemic target is still unclear and glucose management strategies may require adjustment for individual patient characteristics. As glucose management increases in complexity, we realize that traditional means of using meters and strips and paper insulin titration algorithms are potential limitations to our success. To achieve these complex goals for glycemic control, the use of continuous or near-continuous glucose monitoring combined with computerized insulin titration algorithms may be required. The purpose of this review is to discuss the evidence surrounding the various domains of glycemic control and the emerging data supporting the need for individualized glucose targets in critically ill patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-27
Number of pages14
JournalCritical Care Nursing Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • critically ill
  • glucose control
  • glycemic variability
  • hyperglycemia
  • hypoglycemia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care


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