OBJECTIVE: To assess the influence of knowledge about diabetes on the performance of diabetes care for the elderly involving insulin treatment, with special attention to aspects of patient safety in home care.
DESIGN: A questionnaire was administered to nurse's aides and assistant nurses (n = 3144). Answers to questions about knowledge of diabetes were related to "relevant" or "risky measures" as judged from a hypothetical diabetes case. A 94% response rate was obtained. The study took place in January 1997 in 15 of Sweden's 289 municipalities.
RESULTS: Insufficient theoretical knowledge about how the blood sugar is related to an insulin reaction led to an almost threefold increased risk of taking a "risky measure". Insufficient knowledge about reasons for an insulin reaction also resulted in a higher risk, as was the case for personnel working in home based care in contrast to those working solely in Institutional care. In addition, the risk that a nurse's aide would take a "risky measure" was higher than that for an assistant nurse. This may indicate that the basic theoretical knowledge of nurse's aides is inadequate.
CONCLUSION: Deficiencies in basic knowledge of diabetes among nurse's aides and assistant nurses constitute a major cause of potentially serious mishaps in home care of elderly diabetic patients treated with insulin.
2001. Vol. 9, no 2, 107-14 p.