Student Research: Diabetes Mellitus & Anesthesiology

August 31, 2021

During the past year, in his third year of studies, NMP Class of 2022 student Martin Muermann undertook a research project focused on anesthesiology. Collaborating with an interprofessional team, he helped develop updated guidelines for perioperative management of patients with diabetes mellitus. 

NMP student Martin M.What inspired or prompted you to become part of this research project?

I was inspired by the fact that there seemed to be a gap in the literature on preoperative ketone screening for adults. Perioperative management of diabetic patients can be quite complicated, and I was enthusiastic about learning more on the subject and potentially helping improve care as well as postoperative patient outcomes.

Photo: Martin Muermann at Chilliwack General Hospital in Chilliwack, B.C.

Can you briefly explain your research? 

Patients with diabetes need to maintain adequate levels of glucose in their cells to cope with the stress of surgery on their body. This is especially hard due to prolonged fasting required prior to surgery. While blood glucose testing can help inform physicians, it doesn’t always give the most accurate picture of a patient’s condition. Testing for ketones (an indicator of cellular starvation) in addition to blood sugar may help optimize patient care by allowing for earlier detection of cellular starvation and patient deterioration.

Who did you work with on this project?

My supervisor for this project was Dr. Petrus Retief, an anesthesiologist who was one of my preceptors. We also worked together with multiple other anesthesiologists and internal medicine specialists as well as registered nurses, medical lab technicians, and hospital administrators. We are currently consulting with a team from another hospital and have involved the regional head of anesthesiology to try to get our updated guidelines more widely adopted.

How did this project help further your learning as a medical student?

This research bolstered my understanding of the pathophysiology of diabetes mellitus and the complications that can occur for patients in surgical and outpatient settings. It also furthered my learning of the logistics behind updating hospital protocols to reflect new knowledge in the literature and coordinating  with hospital administrators and staff. I’m excited at the opportunity to attend and present at the Anesthesiology Annual Meeting conference by the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) this fall. This will allow me to engage with anesthesiologists from around the world and hear about the latest developments in the field.