Nursing Care Plan for Diabetes

patient education

Diabetes is a prevalent condition. Just recall all the patients you saw today and there’s probably a handful of them who are diabetic.

According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Division of Diabetes Translation, up to 34.2 million people in the United States have diabetes. And by 2049, the number can increase up to 700 million.

Because of how prevalent it is, nurses need to be highly knowledgeable and skilled when it comes to educating and caring for their patients. That includes preparing the right nursing care plan for diabetes.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes or diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disease where blood glucose levels are abnormally high. Symptoms of high blood glucose levels include:

  • Polyuria
  • Polydipsia
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision

In general, there are three types of diabetes and each one varies in terms of treatment and management.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is also called insulin-dependent and juvenile-onset diabetes. This type of diabetes often begins early in childhood. It’s an autoimmune disorder where the body’s immune system attacks its own pancreas,  inhibiting its capacity to produce insulin.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes accounts for 95% of diabetes cases (1) in the US. Onset is usually late in adulthood.

It happens when the pancreas is unable to produce adequate insulin to meet the body’s needs or when the body’s cells become resistant to it. Type 2 diabetes can be managed with lifestyle and diet changes as well as the intake of oral hypoglycemic agents (OHAs).

Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes is characterized by pregnancy-induced insulin resistance. It affects roughly 2% to 10% of pregnancies.

gestational diabetes

Diabetes Nursing Care Plans

Diabetic patients need complex nursing care. Here are some of the most important NCPs for diabetes:

1. Deficient knowledge regarding disease process, treatment, and individual care needs

May be related to
– unfamiliarity with information
– misinterpretation
– lack of recall

Possibly evidenced by
– verbal statements of concerns or misconceptions
– expressions of request for information
– improper or inadequate follow-through of instructions
– development of preventable complications

Desired Outcome
– participates in the learning process
– exhibits signs of taking responsibility for own learning by asking questions
– verbalizes understanding of condition and treatment
– correlates signs and symptoms of the disease process and identify corresponding management
– perform demonstrated procedures correctly and explain reasons for actions

Nursing InterventionsRationale
Priority 1: Assess readiness to learn and individual learning needs
Determine client’s readiness as well as his barriers to learning.The client may not be physically, emotionally or mentally capable at this time which will call for the need to reschedule diabetic health teaching plans.
Look for signs of avoidance to learn.Reflects the need to stress the consequences that may happen in lieu of a lack of knowledge.
Identify client’s support person that may also need information about the planned diabetes regimen.Client’s support persons like parents, spouse and caregivers also need to be provided with right information as they also take part in the client’s treatment.
Priority 2: Establish priorities in learning
Provide information relevant only to the situation.To prevent information overload.
Provide positive reinforcement.This can encourage the continuation of efforts.
Determine the client’s most urgent learning need both from the client’s and nurse’s point of view.Client’s and nurse’s identified most urgent need may differ and require adjustments in the teaching plan.
Priority 3: Develop client’s objectives for learning
Create objectives clearly in the client’s terms.To meet the client’s needs and not the instructor’s needs.
Identify desired outcomes to be achieved.To stress the importance of health teaching being done for the client.
Priority 4: Identify teaching methods fit for the client
Determine client’s preferred method of accessing information like visual, auditory and kinesthetic means.To personalize the teaching plan and facilitate learning or recall of information provided.
Assist in mutual goal setting and learning contracts.Clarifies the expectations of the learner and the teacher.
Priority 5: Facilitate learning
Use short and simple concepts. Summarize as needed.Facilitates better information retention.
Discuss one topic at a time. Avoid jumping into different topics.Simplifies learning plan.
Provide written information or guidelines and self-learning modules, especially about the proper diet essential for diabetic patients.The written guidelines will be helpful for the client if he needs clarification or relearning in the future.
Provide feedback or positive reinforcement and evaluate the learning of skills.To determine the client’s extent of learning.
Priority 6: Promote wellness
Provide information on how to contact a healthcare provider after hospitalization.For concerns and clarifications post-discharge.
Educate about nearby community resources or support groups.For healthcare management resources post-discharge.
Educate about additional learning resources like diabetes care websites, videos, etc.To assist with further learning and promote client’s learning at own pace.

2. Risk for unstable blood glucose

blood glucose monitoring device

May be related to
– lack of adherence to diabetes management
– inadequate blood glucose monitoring practices
– fluctuating physical activity level
– stress

As evidenced by
– blood glucose levels below or above normal levels

Desired Outcome
– identifies factors that may lead to unstable blood glucose levels
– verbalizes understanding of balancing body and energy needs
– verbalizes plan in modifying identified risk factors to prevent shifts in glucose level
– maintains blood glucose levels within the normal range

Nursing InterventionsRationale
Priority 1: Assess risks and contributing factors to unstable blood glucose levels 
Determine the client’s factors that may contribute to unstable blood glucose levels.Certain risk factors like a family history of diabetes, history of poor glucose control, poor exercise habits, eating disorders, and failure to recognize changes in glucose needs can result in blood glucose stability problems.
Determine the influence of client’s cultural and religious factors affecting dietary practices, taking responsibility for own care and expectations of healthcare outcome.These factors may need to be addressed in creating a client’s healthcare plan.
Determine the client’s awareness or ability to be responsible for own healthcare plans.Age, developmental stage, maturity level, and current health status affect the client’s ability to adhere to treatment plans.
Priority 2: Assist client in creating preventive strategies for unstable blood glucose levels
Ensure client is knowledgeable about using his own blood glucose monitoring device.The blood glucose monitoring device is a handy and accurate way of assessing blood glucose levels. Proper usage of this device is essential in detecting unstable blood glucose levels.
Educate about balancing food intake with physical activities.Vital in preventing a sudden increase or decrease in blood glucose levels.
Educate about adjusting home glucose monitoring frequency depending on the client’s risk factors like stress and poor diet.To quickly identify fluctuating blood glucose levels for immediate correction.
Review and discuss the client’s carbohydrate intake.Blood glucose levels greatly depend on carbohydrate intake. It should be monitored and controlled closely when stabilizing high blood glucose levels.
Discuss how the client’s anti-diabetic medications work.Essential in ensuring the client’s understanding of his treatment regimen to ensure his compliance and adherence.
Priority 3: Ensure effective and safe treatment for clients on insulin therapy
Emphasize the importance of inspecting client’s own insulin medication.It is important to regularly check for the insulin’s expiration date, cloudiness/clearness and storage to ensure drug efficacy.
Discuss the different types of insulin as well as each type’s administration method.Different types of insulin have different administration methods. Knowing and following proper administration method is important in ensuring drug’s efficiency.
Check injection sites.Insulin absorption is affected by the integrity of injection sites (2). Insulin is less absorbed in hypohypertropic or lumpy tissues.
Priority 4: Promote wellness
Review client’s risk factors and provide information on how to avoid complications.Ensures prevention of unstable blood glucose levels in the future.
Refer the client to a dietitian to plan specific dietary needs based on complicated situations like pregnancy, growth spurt and change in activity level following an injury.To balance dietary intake with complicated body needs.
Provide information about community resources, support groups and diabetic educators.For client’s access to additional resources for diabetes management.

3. Risk for infection

Mandatory Credit: Photo by F1 Online / Rex Features ( 848674a ) Model Released - Doctor binding bandage on hand, close-up MODEL RELEASED PEOPLE LIFESTYLE EXKLUSIV_AGE MEDICINE OCCUPATIONS PEOPLE

May be related to
– decreased leukocyte function
– circulatory changes due to high blood glucose levels

As evidenced by
– delayed wound healing

Desired Outcome
– verbalizes understanding of identified risk factors
– identifies important interventions in reducing risks for infection
– ensures timely wound healing free from purulent discharges and necrosis

Nursing InterventionsRationale
Priority 1: Assess client’s risk factors 
Determine blood glucose stability.Unstable blood glucose levels contribute to delayed wound healing (3). Persistent high blood glucose levels may warrant a modification in diabetic treatment like adjusting insulin doses or changing oral hypoglyemic agents as prescribed by the physician.
Assess for necrotic tissues around the client’s wound.Necrotic tissues around a diabetic person’s wound signify poor blood flow. In severe cases, amputation may be needed.
Assess and document skin condition around the wound.To monitor for impending infection or progressing necrosis.
Priority 2: Reduce and correct client’s risk factors
Educate patient about the importance of adhering to prescribed diabetic treatment.Efforts in controlling blood glucose levels is essential in ensuring good blood flow around the wound. High blood glucose levels result in poor blood circulation which further leads to delayed wound healing.
Clean and change wound dressings as indicated.To prevent the development of infections that may be associated with poor wound care and hygiene.
Administer and monitor medication regimen.Proper administration of prescribed diabetic medications is important in stabilizing blood glucose levels. Normal blood glucose levels ensure good circulation, especially around the affected wound area. Antibiotic therapy is also important in preventing the development of infection in the site of the wound.
Priority 3: Promote wellness
Review the client’s current diet and nutritional needs.Proper diabetic diet balanced with nutritional needs is important in maintaining normal blood glucose levels. Stabilized blood glucose levels ensure good blood flow, especially around the wound site.
Educate client about proper wound care.Persons with delayed wound healing are at highest risk for developing the infection. Proper wound care contributes to the prevention of wound infection.
Educate about the importance of following diabetic treatment consistently.Adherence to prescribed diabetic treatment ensures good blood flow and reduced risk for delayed wound healing.

See Also: Nursing Care Plan for Risk for Infection

Nursing Interventions for Diabetes:

Assess and Monitor:

  • Regularly assess the patient’s blood glucose levels using a glucometer.
  • Monitor vital signs, including blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate.
  • Assess for signs and symptoms of hyperglycemia (excessive thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, blurred vision) and hypoglycemia (sweating, shakiness, confusion, dizziness).
  • Monitor weight and body mass index (BMI) to evaluate the patient’s response to treatment and nutritional status.
  • Assess for any complications related to diabetes, such as peripheral neuropathy, foot ulcers, or retinopathy.

Medication Management:

  • Educate the patient about the prescribed medications, including their purpose, dosage, timing, and potential side effects.
  • Emphasize the importance of medication adherence and regular follow-up with healthcare providers.
  • Teach the patient proper administration techniques for insulin injections, if applicable.
  • Monitor the patient for any medication-related adverse effects and report them to the healthcare provider.

Education and Self-Management:

  • Provide comprehensive education on diabetes self-management, including:
  • Blood glucose monitoring techniques and target ranges.
  • Medication management and insulin administration (if applicable).
  • Meal planning and carbohydrate counting.
  • Importance of regular exercise and physical activity.
  • Recognition and management of hypo- and hyperglycemic episodes.
  • Foot care practices to prevent complications.
  • Stress management techniques.
  • Individualize education based on the patient’s learning needs, cultural background, and literacy level.
  • Provide written materials, visual aids, and resources for the patient to refer to at home.
  • Encourage the patient to attend diabetes self-management classes or support groups.

Dietary Management:

  • Collaborate with a dietitian to develop an individualized meal plan based on the patient’s nutritional needs, preferences, and cultural considerations.
  • Educate the patient about portion control, balanced meal composition, and the importance of regular meal times.
  • Emphasize the need to limit the intake of sugary and processed foods.
  • Teach the patient how to read food labels and make informed choices.
  • Provide guidance on carbohydrate counting and meal/snack timing.
  • Encourage the patient to keep a food diary to track their dietary intake and identify areas for improvement.

Exercise and Physical Activity:

  • Assess the patient’s current physical activity level, fitness level, and any limitations.
  • Collaborate with the healthcare team to develop an exercise plan tailored to the patient’s abilities and preferences.
  • Educate the patient about the benefits of regular exercise in diabetes management, such as improved insulin sensitivity and weight control.
  • Encourage the patient to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, along with strength training exercises.
  • Teach the patient how to monitor blood glucose levels before, during, and after exercise, and make necessary adjustments to prevent hypoglycemia.
  • Discuss safety precautions, such as wearing appropriate footwear and checking for foot injuries.

Psychosocial Support:

  • Assess the patient’s emotional well-being and any psychosocial factors that may affect diabetes management.
  • Offer emotional support and provide a safe space for the patient to express their feelings and concerns.
  • Refer the patient to counseling services or support groups if needed.
  • Encourage the patient to involve their family members or caregivers in the diabetes management process.

Continuity of Care:

  • Collaborate with the healthcare team to ensure a coordinated approach to diabetes care.
  • Schedule regular follow-up appointments to monitor the patient’s progress and adjust the treatment plan


1. Deshpande, A. D., Harris-Hayes, M., & Schootman, M. (2008). Epidemiology of diabetes and diabetes-related complications. Physical therapy, 88(11), 1254-1264.
2. Heinemann, L. (2010). Insulin absorption from lipodystrophic areas: a (neglected) source of trouble for insulin therapy?. Journal of diabetes science and technology, 4(3), 750-753.
3. Terranova, A. (1991). The effects of diabetes mellitus on wound healing. Plastic surgical nursing: official journal of the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgical Nurses, 11(1), 20-25.

Doenges, M. E., Moorhouse, M. F., & Murr, A. C. (2019). Nurse’s pocket guide: Diagnoses, prioritized interventions, and rationales. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis.