Study Design and Population: This randomized controlled trial assessed the effects of tight versus liberal glucose control on the length of ICU stay in critically ill patients. A total of 9,230 patients were included, with 4,622 in the liberal-control group (insulin initiation when blood glucose levels exceeded 215 mg/dL) and 4,608 in the tight-control group (blood glucose targeted between 80 and 110 mg/dL). In both groups, parenteral nutrition was withheld during the first week of ICU admission. The primary endpoint was the duration of ICU stay, and 90-day mortality served as a key safety outcome.
Main Findings: No significant differences were observed in the primary endpoint, the length of ICU stay, between the two groups (hazard ratio 1.00; 95% CI, 0.96 to 1.04; P=0.94). The 90-day mortality rates were also similar (10.1% in the liberal-control group vs. 10.5% in the tight-control group, P=0.51). Incidences of severe hypoglycemia were low and statistically similar in both groups (1.0% in the tight-control group vs. 0.7% in the liberal-control group). Secondary outcomes, including new infections and the duration of respiratory and hemodynamic support, showed no significant differences. However, lower incidences of severe acute kidney injury and cholestatic liver dysfunction were observed in the tight-control group.
Implications & Limitations: The study supports existing evidence that tight glucose control doesn’t provide substantial benefits in reducing ICU stay duration or mortality. This suggests that a more liberal approach to glucose control may be preferable in most ICU settings, especially to minimize hypoglycemia risk. Key limitations of the study include its narrow focus on the absence of early parenteral nutrition, which could limit generalizability, and the inability to blind caregivers to treatment assignments. Future research should investigate the impact of tight glucose control in various patient subgroups and under different nutritional conditions.