On Pens and Needles—Delivering Insulin Safely

April 1, 2013 | Evaluations & Guidance


The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) recently published two commentaries on safety issues related to insulin delivery.

In the February 7 issue of the Acute Care edition of its ISMP Medication Safety Alert, the institute recommended that hospitals consider transitioning away from the use of insulin pens for inpatients because they are sometimes inappropriately used on multiple patients instead of multiple times on a single patient. Even if the pen’s needle is changed between patients, there is a risk of cross-contamination because of possible backflow of blood and cells into the pen’s cartridge. Citing numerous incidents—including two recent ones in New York State—the institute noted...

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