The Irish Medication Safety Network recently contacted us to highlight this issue again.
Insulin pens must never be shared.
In December 2013 the Irish Medication Safety Network (www.imsn.ie) published an alert for healthcare professionals highlighting the risks of sharing insulin pen devices.
The key messages for patients arising from this alert are the following:
- An insulin pen must never be used by more than one person even if the needle is changed between patients. This is because there can be a backflow of blood and other biologic material into the insulin after injection. There may also be blood and other biologic material on the pen lid or body, so changing the cartridge does not make a pen device safe for use by more than one patient. The sharing of insulin pens may result in viruses such as HIV and hepatitis or other blood-borne pathogens being passed from one patient to another.
- If you are being treated for diabetes with an insulin pen whilst in a hospital, nursing home or other institution it is essential that you have a pen reserved for your personal use only. If you have any concerns about the management of your pen whilst an inpatient you should ask a member of the healthcare staff.
1. Risk of Cross-Contamination with Insulin Pens. Safety Alert. Irish Medication Safety Network. December 2013. http://www.webcitation.org/6QZF4M01a