CDC Issues Clinical Reminder for Safe Use of Insulin Pens

Safety of Insulin Pens, Diabetes Care

As there are more reports of the improper use of insulin pens, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a clinical reminder about the risks involved, especially the sharing of the device among more than one person.

An insulin pen is an injector device, about the size and shape of a large marker, that carries insulin in a self-contained cartridge. Because they are easier to use than drawing insulin into a needle from a vial, they are becoming more popular among diabetes patients.

There are a number of different brands and models available, but most fall into one of two categories: reusable or disposable. The concern of the CDC is that reusable pens, which are meant to be used more than once but only on a single patient, are being shared. This is especially dangerous when it occurs in a healthcare setting such as a hospital or nursing home.


Even when the needle of the pen is changed, regurgitation of blood into the insulin cartridge can occur, creating the risk of bloodborne pathogen transmission such as hepatitis and HIV.

The CDC recommends the following for anyone using insulin pens to reduce the risk of infection:
• 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.
• Hospitals and other facilities should review their policies and educate their staff regarding safe use of insulin pens and similar devices.
• If reuse is identified, exposed persons should be promptly notified and offered appropriate follow-up including bloodborne pathogen testing.

BD Diabetes (Becton, Dickinson and Company), the maker of the HumaPen Luxura HD, offers a downloadable patient brochure on how to use insulin pens and pen needles at

Source Reference:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC Clinical Reminder: Insulin Pens Must Never Be Used for More than One Person

Image Credit: Science Photo Library


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