Inpatient diabetes care: complexity, resilience and quality of care

A.J. Ross, J.E. Anderson, N. Kodate, K. Thompson, A. Cox, R. Malik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


It is estimated that 10-15 % of UK hospital inpatients have diabetes. Poor glycemic control is a care quality problem that has been linked to organizational factors such as inadequate training, inadequate protocols, problems with communication and teamwork, and difficulty coordinating mealtimes. Interventions using specialist diabetes teams have been effective in addressing some of these problems and have led to increased staff and patient self-efficacy and reduced length of stay. The aim of this study was to investigate how inpatient diabetes care is delivered and how resilience is created and/or breaks down, and to identify the implications for quality improvement. In-depth interviews (n = 32) with diabetes specialist and non-specialist staff were conducted in an acute medical admissions environment in an 850-bed teaching hospital. The Critical Decision Method, a content-orientated knowledge elicitation technique, was adapted to guide interview schedules, which explored key decisions, gaps and discontinuities in care and strategies for work system improvement. Care is delivered through the coordination of a multilayered team of different professionals. Specialists provide expertise and problem solving through case-based reasoning using problem-solving skills acquired through past experience. Ward staff focus on processes and immediate patient needs and are more reliant on decision protocols. Gaps in care can occur and result in delays in referring to specialists and clinical inertia. Specialists are a key source of resilience in the system and bridge gaps by acting reactively to problems, proactively monitoring and anticipating problems, providing staff education, and patient support and education. Opportunities for supporting clinicians to bridge gaps in care were identified.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberN/A
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalCognition, Technology and Work
Issue numberN/A
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2012


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