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Hospitals Switching to Insulin Pens May Reduce Dosage Errors for Diabetics

David W. Hodges
Partner at Kennedy Hodges LLP practicing pharmacy error, medical malpractice and personal injury law
Posted on Nov 30, 2011

Many diabetics are trusted to do their own insulin injections at home.  In order to cut down on injuries and potential overdoses, many of these patients are given programmable insulin pen devices as part of their home treatment.

But now it seems that these devices may be the key to reducing hospital dosage errors in Texas.

Insulin pens were introduced in the 1980s, and were a boon for diabetic self-treatment.  They ensured accurate and simple administration of insulin so patients could inject themselves without relying on medically-trained professionals.

However, these professionals may benefit from the insulin pen’s ease of use.  Insulin administration in hospitals and clinics is still largely done with bottle measures and syringes, and is the cause of many medication errors and adverse drug events.

Hospitals across the country have switched from the vial-and-syringe method in favor of insulin pen devices.  In addition to a pre-measured dose, the pens perform accurate dose delivery and prevent needle stick injuries with the use of shielded safety needles.  Many of the pens have the added feature of locking after injection to prevent reuse of needles.

Insulin pens were initially used in outpatient settings, where it was found they decreased diabetes-related drug errors.  In addition, studies have shown that patients receiving insulin via pen injections in the hospital will often choose to continue that method of insulin delivery at home, since they are already familiar with how it is used.

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