Injections Made Easier

Josephine Notter, RN WCC, Nurse Consultant, ICP, Inc.

Insulin pens have grown in popularity in both home care and healthcare institutions due to the many advantages they offer. Insulin pens are used to inject insulin into the body from a prefi lled cartridge. They are easy to use, easy to store and accurate.

When compared to the multi-does vials of insulin, the pen is easier to transport and store. Once opened, the pen can be stored at room temperature and needs about as much room as a marker. The pen has a dial feature that is easy to read - making dose accuracy simple. There are no syringes used with the pen. Small needles are attached to the pen prior to each injection. The injection can also be less painful than traditional administration. The needle for the pen is not dulled by insertion into the rubber stopper of a vial.

Requirements that must be followed to ensure safety can be found on the CDC website - http://tinyurl. com/ICPinspen. According to the CDC, following reports of improper use of insulin pens in hospitals, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an alert for healthcare professionals reminding them that insulin pens are meant for use on a single patient only and are not to be shared between patients. Insulin pens containing multiple doses of insulin are meant for use on a single person only, and should never be used for more than one person, even when the needle is changed.
  • Insulin pens should be clearly labeled with the person's name or other identifying information to ensure that the correct pen is used only on the correct individual.
  • Healthcare facilities should review their policies and educate their staff regarding safe use of insulin pens and similar devices.
  • How to use the pen:
    1. Initially remove from the refrigerator.
    2. If it is a suspension it must be mixed.
    3. Clean the stopper of the pen with alcohol.
    4. Attached the needle to the pen.
    5. Prime the needle.
      • This is done by dialing 2 units, pointing the pen upwards, tapping the cartridge to make air bubbles collect at the top – push the dial all the way in until the dose selector returns to "0".
      • A drop of insulin should appear at the needle tip. If not, replace needle and repeat procedure.
    6. Dial the dose of insulin ordered.
      • The dose can be corrected either up or down. You cannot select a dose larger than the number of units left in the cartridge or a dose larger than what the dial allows.
    7. Cleanse the site for administration.
    8. Inject insulin.
      • Press the button all the way in until the "0" marker lines up with the pointer.
    9. Keep the button fully pressed for at least 6 seconds
      • This will ensure the full dose has been injected.
    10. Remove and dispose of needle.
Each pen device may have slightly different directions for use, and always refer to the manufacturer guidelines for administration. You cannot draw insulin out of the pen or draw up insulin from a vial to the pen. Pens must be handled with care. If dropped or crushed damage may occur. The exterior of the pen can be wiped with a medicinal cloth but soaking, washing or lubricating may damage the pen. Always remove the needle after each injection and store without a needle attached.Contact your ICP Nurse Consultant for further needs related to insulin pen training.

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