Original Contributions| Volume 54, ISSUE 5, P593-599, May 2018

The Two-Bag Method for Treatment of Diabetic Ketoacidosis in Adults



      The “two-bag method” of management of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) allows for titration of dextrose delivery by adjusting the infusions of two i.v. fluid bags of varying dextrose concentrations while keeping fluid, electrolyte, and insulin infusion rates constant.


      We aimed to evaluate the feasibility and potential benefits of this strategy in adult emergency department (ED) patients with DKA.


      This is a before-and-after comparison of a protocol using the two-bag method operationalized in our adult ED in 2015. A retrospective electronic medical record search identified adult ED patients presenting with DKA from January 1, 2013 to June 30, 2016. Clinical and laboratory data, timing of medical therapies, and safety outcomes were collected and analyzed.


      Sixty-eight patients managed with the two-bag method (2B) and 107 patients managed with the one-bag method (1B) were identified. The 2B and 1B groups were similar in demographics and baseline metabolic derangements, though significantly more patients in the 2B group received care in a hybrid ED and intensive care unit setting (94.1% vs. 51.4%; p < 0.01). 2B patients experienced a shorter interval to first serum bicarbonate ≥ 18 mEq/L (13.4 vs. 20.0 h; p < 0.05), shorter duration of insulin infusion (14.1 vs. 21.8 h; p < 0.05), and fewer fluid bags were charged to the patient (5.2 vs. 29.7; p < 0.01). Frequency of any measured hypoglycemia or hypokalemia trended in favor of the 2B group (2.9% vs. 10.3%; p = 0.07; 16.2% vs. 27.1%; p = 0.09; respectively), though did not reach significance.


      The 2B method appears feasible for management of adult ED patients with DKA, and use was associated with earlier correction of acidosis, earlier discontinuation of insulin infusion, and fewer i.v. fluid bags charged than traditional 1B methods, while no safety concerns were observed.


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