Mercy researching method to manage high blood sugar in COVID-19 patients

Published: Sep. 14, 2020 at 11:47 AM CDT
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Medical research is drawing more attention than ever before, as health experts search for more effective ways to treat and prevent COVID-19. Here in Springfield, doctors and nurses are participating in a research study involving patients with the virus.

The study’s goal is to limit healthcare workers' exposure to COVID-19. The study at Mercy Hospital involves patients with high-blood sugar hospitalized with COVID-19 or suspected to have the virus.

Usually, a nurse would have to go into the patient’s room, suited up in PPE, every 30 to 60 minutes to check their blood sugar. But the researchers decided to use continuous glucose monitoring equipment, in this case a device called the Dexcom G6, to monitor a patient’s blood sugar level from outside the room. The device is placed on the patient’s body, near the stomach, and measures the sugar level under the skin. It transmits the measurement to a device outside the room, where the nurse can also remotely adjust the patient’s insulin drip. Dr. Johnson Thomas says it may be used in patients with diabetes, but he says COVID-19 can actually lead to high blood sugars or even diabetes. Steroid medications used to treat COVID can also increase blood sugars. The study has benefits for healthcare workers and patients.

“Another thing is, we had to prick the patient’s finger all the time to get the sugars,” Dr. Johnson Thomas, Mercy Endocrinology. “But now, with this, we don’t have to do that, and that’s a convenience factor for them. With this, we are hoping to decrease the use of PPE and decrease the exposure from COVID-19 to our healthcare workers.”

Dr. Thomas cannot share how many patients have been enrolled in the study, but says most patients are happy to participate. The study could lead to long term use of the glucose monitoring devices in a hospital setting. After the study began, the FDA gave approval for hospital use during the pandemic.

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