Monday 20 to Sunday 26 May is Insulin Safety Week and our Adult Diabetes Nursing Team have been touring our wards to raise awareness as well as setting up a stand in our first floor Aubergine restaurant.
Choose Safety #ThinkInsulin aims to highlight the importance of ensuring patients with diabetes receive the correct dose of insulin and clarify some of the factors and variables involved.
During the week further information will be available from Aubergine while the nursing team will visit wards to talk to staff about insulin pens and ensuring the correct dose.
Insulin treatment improves the quality of life of many people with diabetes and it saves the lives of others.
Insulin is used to lower blood glucose levels but insulin management and prescribing errors can happen and can lead to patient harm.
Insulin Safety Week aims to raise awareness to prevent errors, to ensure the right person has the right insulin at the right dose, at the right time and in the right way, and using the right device.
The right person
Each individual has different insulin requirements. How much insulin and how many injections you need each day will depend on a number of factors including the type of diabetes you have, your lifestyle, your meal pattern, how long you have had diabetes and whether you also take tablets to control your blood glucose levels.
The right insulin
Did you know there are more than 30 different insulins available in the UK? It is important that patients check they have the correct one as some work very rapidly and some very slowly. Some have similar names but very different actions. It is also important to check the concentration of insulin. Until recently insulin was only available as 100 units per millilitre – now there are a number of different strengths – including double, triple and five times the concentration.
The right dose
How much you need depend on your weight, type of diabetes, the amount of carbohydrates you eat, activity levels and many other factors.
The right time
Some people need to take insulin with or just after food, others up to 30 minutes before food and others at bedtime.
The right device
If you use syringes you should always check that it is an insulin syringe and these should only be used to withdraw insulin from an insulin vial – never from a cartridge or a pre-filled pen.
If using a pen always use the pen provided by the same manufacturer of your insulin so the cartridge fits correctly and always keep a spare pen in case of breakage.
If you use an insulin pump you should always keep a cartridge and pen, or disposable pens, in case of pump malfunction.
The right way
Insulin should be injected at a 90 degree angle into the upper outer thighs, upper outer buttocks or abdomen and you should vary the places you inject. Store unused insulin in a refrigerator- it must not freeze but can be kept at room temperature for up to 28 days if you avoid direct sunlight or heat.