Consensus Recommendations for Sick Day Medication Guidance for People With Diabetes, Kidney, or Cardiovascular Disease: A Modified Delphi Process

Kaitlyn E Watson, Kirnvir Dhaliwal, Sandra Robertshaw, Nancy Verdin, Eleanor Benterud, Nicole Lamont, Kelsea M Drall, Kerry McBrien, Maoliosa Donald, Ross T Tsuyuki, David J T Campbell, Neesh Pannu, Matthew T James, PAUSE (Preventing Medication Complications During Acute Illness Through Symptom Evaluation And Sick Day Guidance) Medication Safety Advisory Panel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


RATIONALE AND OBJECTIVE: Sick day medication guidance (SDMG) involves withholding or adjusting specific medications in the setting of acute illnesses that could contribute to complications such as hypotension, acute kidney injury (AKI), or hypoglycemia. We sought to achieve consensus among clinical experts on recommendations for SDMG that could be studied in future intervention studies.

STUDY DESIGN: A modified Delphi process following the Conducting and Reporting Delphi Studies reporting guidelines.

SETTING & PARTICIPANTS: An international group of clinicians with expertise relevant to SDMG was recruited through purposive and snowball sampling. A scoping review of the literature was presented, followed by three sequential rounds of development, refinement, and voting on recommendations. Meetings were held virtually and structured to allow participants to provide their input and rapidly prioritize and refine ideas.

OUTCOMES: Opinions of participants were measured as the percentage who agreed with each recommendation, whereas consensus was defined as >75% agreement.

ANALYTICAL APPROACH: Quantitative data were summarized using counts and percentages. A qualitative content analysis was performed to capture the context of the discussion around recommendations and any additional considerations brought forward by participants.

RESULTS: The final panel included 26 clinician participants from four countries and 10 clinical disciplines. Participants reached a consensus on 42 specific recommendations: five regarding the signs and symptoms accompanying volume depletion that should trigger SDMG; six regarding signs that should prompt urgent contact with a health care provider including a reduced level of consciousness, severe vomiting, low blood pressure, presence of ketones, tachycardia, and fever; and 14 related to scenarios and strategies for patient self-management, including frequent glucose monitoring, checking ketones, fluid intake, and consumption of food to prevent low blood sugars. There was consensus that renin-angiotensin system inhibitors, diuretics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 inhibitors, and metformin should be temporarily stopped. Participants recommended that insulin, sulfonylureas, and meglitinides be held only if blood glucose was low and that basal and bolus insulin be increased by 10-20% if blood glucose was elevated. There was consensus on six recommendations related to the resumption of medications within 24-48 hours of the resolution of symptoms and the presence of normal patterns of eating and drinking.

LIMITATIONS: Participants were from high-income countries, predominantly Canada. Findings may not be generalizable to implementation in other settings.

CONCLUSION: A multidisciplinary panel of clinicians reached a consensus on recommendations for SDMG in the presence of signs and symptoms of volume depletion, as well as self-management strategies and medication instructions in this setting. These recommendations may inform the design of future trials of SDMG strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)564-574
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Kidney Diseases
Issue number5
Early online date5 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2023

Bibliographical note

We would like to thank the clinical experts who participated in the modified Delphi panel and provided their knowledge and expertise. We also thank Sarah Gil and Terry Smith for technical assistance.


  • medications
  • safety
  • diabetes
  • kidney disease
  • cardiovascular disease
  • modified Delphi process


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