Managing Blood Glucose Levels in Burn Patients: A Nurse’s Critical Decision-Making

The care of burn patients presents nurses with a unique set of challenges, one of which is managing blood glucose levels. In this article, we will explore a scenario where a client with 50% burns has a blood glucose level of 142 mg/dL ten hours after admission. We will discuss the nurse’s pivotal role in addressing this situation and ensuring the best possible care for the patient.

Significance of Blood Glucose Management in Burn Patients

Managing blood glucose levels in burn patients is crucial for several reasons. Burn injuries trigger complex physiological responses, including an increase in stress hormones like cortisol and catecholamines. These hormonal changes can lead to elevated blood glucose levels, a condition known as hyperglycemia. Proper management of blood glucose is essential to prevent complications and support the healing process.

The Scenario

Imagine a client who has been admitted with extensive burns covering 50% of their body. Ten hours after admission, the nurse performs a blood glucose test and records a reading of 142 mg/dL. This level of hyperglycemia raises concerns, and the nurse must take appropriate action.

The Nurse’s Best Action: Immediate Assessment and Intervention

When faced with elevated blood glucose levels in a burn patient, the nurse’s primary objective is to assess the patient’s overall condition and initiate appropriate interventions:

  1. Assess the Patient: Begin by assessing the client’s general status, including vital signs, level of consciousness, and any signs or symptoms of hyperglycemia, such as excessive thirst, frequent urination, or weakness.
  2. Repeat Blood Glucose Test: Confirm the elevated blood glucose level with a repeat test to rule out any transient or lab error-related fluctuations.
  3. Monitor for Complications: Pay close attention to signs of complications associated with hyperglycemia, including dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, or acidosis. These can exacerbate the patient’s condition.
  4. Consult with the Healthcare Team: Communicate the elevated blood glucose levels to the healthcare team, including the attending physician and the endocrinologist or diabetes specialist if available.
  5. Initiate Insulin Therapy: Depending on the client’s blood glucose levels and medical history, insulin therapy may be initiated to lower and control blood glucose. Ensure that the prescribed insulin regimen is followed meticulously.
  6. Nutritional Support: Collaborate with the dietitian to develop a tailored nutrition plan for the client. Adequate nutrition is vital for burn patients, and managing carbohydrate intake can help stabilize blood glucose levels.
  7. Monitor Response: Continuously monitor the client’s blood glucose levels and response to insulin therapy. Adjust insulin doses as needed to maintain euglycemia (normal blood glucose levels).
  8. Educate the Patient: Educate the client and their caregivers about the importance of blood glucose management and insulin administration. Provide guidance on self-monitoring and recognizing signs of hypo- or hyperglycemia.

Collaborative Care

Blood glucose management in burn patients often requires a collaborative effort among various healthcare professionals, including endocrinologists, dietitians, and pharmacists. Effective communication and interdisciplinary teamwork are essential for optimizing patient care.


Accurate and timely documentation of blood glucose levels, insulin administration, response to therapy, and any related interventions or complications are critical for maintaining a comprehensive record of the client’s care.


Elevated blood glucose levels in burn patients demand prompt attention and effective management. Nurses play a vital role in assessing, monitoring, and initiating interventions to control hyperglycemia and prevent associated complications. By taking the right actions and collaborating with the healthcare team, nurses can contribute significantly to the well-being and recovery of burn patients.


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