Increased prevalence of diabetes in the community has been accompanied by an increase in diabetes in hospitalised patients. About a quarter of these patients experience a hypoglycaemic episode during their admission, which is associated with increased risk of mortality and length of stay. This article examines the aetiology, pathophysiology, diagnosis and treatment of type 2 diabetes using a case study approach. The psychosocial implications for the patient are also discussed. The case study is based on a patient with diabetes who was admitted to hospital following a hypoglycaemic episode and cared for during a practice placement. The importance of early diagnosis of diabetes and the adverse effects of delayed diagnosis are discussed.