13+ Diabetes Mellitus Nursing Care Plans

What are the nursing care plans and nursing diagnosis for diabetes mellitus (DM)?


In this nursing care plan guide are 13 nursing diagnosis for Diabetes Mellitus. Learn about the nursing interventions, goals, and nursing assessment for Diabetes Mellitus.

What is Diabetes Mellitus? 

Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a chronic disease characterized by insufficient production of insulin in the pancreas or when the body cannot efficiently use the insulin it produces. This leads to an increased concentration of glucose in the bloodstream (hyperglycemia). It is characterized by disturbances in carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism. Sustained hyperglycemia has been shown to affect almost all tissues in the body and is associated with significant complications of multiple organ systems, including the eyes, nerves, kidneys, and blood vessels.

Diabetes mellitus has a few types: 

  • Type 1 diabetes is characterized by destruction of the pancreatic beta cells.
  • Types 2 diabetes involves insulin resistance and impaired insulin secretion.
  • Gestational diabetes mellitus is when a pregnant woman experiences any degree of glucose intolerance with the onset of pregnancy.

Nursing Care Plans for Diabetes Mellitus

Nursing care planning goals for patients with diabetes include effective treatment to normalize blood glucose and decrease complications using insulin replacement, balanced diet, and exercise. The nurse should stress the importance of complying with the prescribed treatment program. Tailor your teaching to the patient’s needs, abilities, and developmental stage. Stress the effect of blood glucose control on long-term health.

Here are 13 nursing care plans (NCP) and nursing diagnoses for diabetes mellitus (DM):

  1. Risk for Unstable Blood Glucose
  2. Deficient Knowledge
  3. Risk for Infection
  4. Risk for Disturbed Sensory Perception
  5. Powerlessness
  6. Risk for Ineffective Therapeutic Regimen Management
  7. Risk for Injury
  8. Imbalanced Nutrition: Less Than Body Requirements
  9. Risk for Deficient Fluid Volume
  10. Fatigue
  11. Risk for Impaired Skin Integrity
  12. Other Possible Nursing Care Plans

Imbalanced Nutrition: Less Than Body Requirements

Nursing Diagnosis

May be related to

  • Insulin deficiency (decreased uptake and utilization of glucose by the tissues, resulting in increased protein/fat metabolism)
  • Decreased oral intake: anorexia, nausea, gastric fullness, abdominal pain; altered consciousness
  • Hypermetabolic state: release of stress hormones (e.g., epinephrine, cortisol, and growth hormone), infectious process

Possibly evidenced by

  • Increased urinary output, dilute urine
  • Reported inadequate food intake, lack of interest in food
  • Recent weight loss; weakness, fatigue, poor muscle tone
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased ketones (end product of fat metabolism)

Desired Outcomes

  • Ingest appropriate amounts of calories/nutrients.
  • Display usual energy level.
  • Demonstrate stabilized weight or gain toward usual/desired range with normal laboratory values.
Nursing Interventions Rationale
Weigh daily or as ordered. Weighing serves as an assessment tool to determine the adequacy of nutritional intake.
Ascertain patient’s dietary program and usual pattern then compare with recent intake. Identifies deficits and deviations from therapeutic needs.
Ascertain understanding of individual nutritional needs. To determine what information to be provided to client or SO.
Discuss eating habits and encourage a diabetic diet (balanced diet) as prescribed by the doctor. To achieve health needs of the patient with the proper food diet for his condition.
Document actual weight, do not estimate. Note total daily intake including patterns and time of eating. Patients may be unaware of their actual weight or weight loss due to the estimation of weight.
Consult dietician and/or physician for further assessment and recommendation regarding food preferences and nutritional support. To reveal changes that should be made in the client’s dietary intake. For greater understanding and further assessment of specific foods.
Auscultate bowel sounds. Note reports of abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting of undigested food. Maintain NPO status as indicated. Hyperglycemia and fluid and electrolyte disturbances can decrease gastric motility and/or function (due to distention or ileus) affecting choice of interventions. Note: Chronic difficulties with decreased gastric emptying time and poor intestinal motility may suggest autonomic neuropathies affecting the GI tract and requiring symptomatic treatment.
Provide liquids containing nutrients and electrolytes as soon as the patient can tolerate oral fluids then progress to a portion of more solid food as tolerated. Oral route is preferred when patient is alert and bowel function is restored.
Identify food preferences, including ethnic and cultural needs. If the patient’s food preferences can be incorporated into the meal plan, cooperation with dietary requirements may be facilitated after discharge.
Include SO in meal planning as indicated. To promote a sense of involvement and provide information to the SO to understand the nutritional needs of the patient. Note: Various methods available or dietary planning include exchange list, point system, glycemic index, or pre-selected menus.
Observe for signs of hypoglycemia: changes in LOC, cold and clammy skin, rapid pulse, hunger, irritability, anxiety, headache, lightheadedness, shakiness. Hypoglycemia can occur once blood glucose level is reduced and carbohydrate metabolism resumes and insulin is being given. If the patient is comatose, hypoglycemia may occur without a notable change in LOC. This potentially life-threatening emergency should be assessed and treated quickly per protocol. Note: Type 1 diabetics of long-standing may not display usual signs of hypoglycemia because normal response to low blood sugar may be diminished.
Perform fingerstick glucose testing. Beside analysis of serum glucose is more accurate than monitoring urine sugar. Urine glucose is not sensitive enough to detect fluctuations in serum levels and can be affected by patient’s individual renal threshold or the presence of urinary retention. Note: Normal levels for fingerstick glucose testing may vary depending on how much the patient ate during his last meal. In general: 80–120 mg/dL (4.4–6.6 mmol/L) before meals or when waking up; 100–140 mg/dL (5.5–7.7 mmol/L) at bedtime.
Administer regular insulin by intermittent or continuous IV method: IV bolus followed by a continuous drip via pump of approximately 5–10 U/hr so that glucose is reduced by 50 mg/dL/hr. Regular insulin has a rapid onset and thus quickly helps move glucose into cells. The IV route is the initial route of choice because absorption from subcutaneous tissues may be erratic. Many believe the continuous method is the optimal way to facilitate the transition to carbohydrate metabolism and reduce the incidence of hypoglycemia.
Administer glucose solutions: dextrose and half-normal saline. Glucose solutions may be added after insulin and fluids have brought the blood glucose to approximately 400 mg/dL. As carbohydrate metabolism approaches normal, care must be taken to avoid hypoglycemia.
Provide diet of approximately 60% carbohydrates, 20% proteins, 20% fats in designated number of meals and snacks. Complex carbohydrates (apples, broccoli, peas, dried beans, carrots, peas, oats) decrease glucose levels/insulin needs, reduce serum cholesterol levels, and promote satiation. Food intake is scheduled according to specific insulin characteristics and individual patient response. Note: A snack at bedtime of complex carbohydrates is especially important (if insulin is given in divided doses) to prevent hypoglycemia during sleep and potential Somogyi response.
Administer other medications as indicated: metoclopramide (Reglan); tetracycline. May be useful in treating symptoms related to autonomic neuropathies affecting GI tract, thus enhancing oral intake and absorption of nutrients.
Instruct the patient to exercise regularly.
  • Refer the patient to an exercise physiologist, physical therapist, or cardiac rehabilitation nurse for specific exercise instructions.
Specific exercises can be prescribed based on any physical limitations the diabetic patient may have.
  • Instruct to do warm-ups and cool-downs for at least 30 to 60 minutes.
Warm-ups and stretching helps prevent muscle injury.
  • Instruct patient in the methods to maintain hydration and avoid hypoglycemia during exercise.
Dehydration can hasten hypoglycemia, especially in hot weather. Patients may need to add a snack before exercising if they experience hypoglycemia.

References and Sources

References and recommended sources for this care plan guide for Diabetes Mellitus:

  • Ackley, B. J. (2008). Evidence-based nursing care guidelines: Medical-surgical interventions. Elsevier Health Sciences.
  • Black, J. M., & Hawks, J. H. (2009). Medical-surgical nursing: Clinical management for positive outcomes (Vol. 1). A. M. Keene (Ed.). Saunders Elsevier. [Link]
  • Brunner, L. S., & Suddarth, D. S. (2004). Medical surgical nursing (Vol. 2123). Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. [Link]
  • Doenges, M. E., Moorhouse, M. F., & Murr, A. C. (2016). Nurse’s pocket guide: Diagnoses, prioritized interventions, and rationales. FA Davis. [Link]
  • Gulanick, M., & Myers, J. L. (2016). Nursing Care Plans: Diagnoses, Interventions, and Outcomes. Elsevier Health Sciences. [Link]
  • Rosenberg, C. S. (1990). Wound healing in the patient with diabetes mellitus. The Nursing clinics of North America25(1), 247-261. [Link]
  • White, P. (1974). Diabetes mellitus in pregnancy. Clinics in perinatology1(2), 331-348.

See Also

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  1. I’m a registered diploma(Level 300) student nurse in Ghana and is my ambition to equipped myself with your simple standard education. Please I want both medical and surgical nursing question.

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