Insulin Pens

September 1, 2021


Insulin Pens

Insulin Delivery Pens come in compact designs, prefilled with Insulin. Color of the pens are different depending on types of insulin. They allow accurate insulin delivery. Insulin pens are disposable, a few models are reusable in which insulin cartridges can be loaded. Each pen comes holding 300 units of insulin.

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How to use an Insulin Pen

  • Remove pen cover or cap.
  • Remove paper tab from the needle and screw needle onto the pen. The pen’s needle comes in different length (4 mm-12.7 mm) and different gauges or thickness ( ranging from 29 G to 32G) . Usually 4-6 mm, gauge 32 needle is used for adults. Higher the gauge, the thinner the needle. Needles are disposable and comes in a pack of 200 needles.
  • Insulin are either clear or cloudy depending on its types.  For cloudy insulin mix it gently by rolling in both palms and tipping up and down for a few seconds.
  • Before each shot prime the needle. Priming remove the air from the needle. Remove the inner needle cover. Tap the cartridge holder gently to move any bubbles to the top. Turn the dose selector knob at end of pen to to 2 units. Hold the pen pointing upwards and press the dose knob till it stops and drops of insulin can be seen coming out. The dial should be back at zero after pressing. Repeat the step if necessary so there is no air bubbles in pen.
  • Now turn the dose knob to dial in prescribed insulin dose. Double check the dose window to ensure the proper dose.
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  • Select injection site. Abdomen is the preferred site. Always keep 1–2 inches away from the navel as around naval there is rich blood supply. Other sites are upper thigh or upper arms absorption is more rapid from abdomen than from the arm and slowest from thigh. Choose different Injection site (1 inch away from the previous site) in a circle on abdomen each time to prevent lumps of fat (lipodystrophy) forming at repeated injection site.
  • Clean area with an alcohol swab. Gently pinch up the skin if you are thin to avoid injecting in muscles and push needle in at 90 degree angle. Longer needles should be injected with either a skinfold or at 45 degree angle to avoid injecting in muscles.
  • Press dose knob with thumb all the way in (the dose window should go back to zero)
  • Leave needle in injection site for few seconds and then pull it out to prevent insulin leaking out. Lightly pat area with tissue or cotton ball but do not rub the area.
  • Place outer needle cover on the needle and unscrew it from the pen. Throw used needle away in a ‘sharps’ container with a lid for safe disposal (Do not put needles in ordinary rubbish bin) . Put the pen cover back on pen. Keep the pen at room temperature and use it before the expiry date.
  • Store the unopened pen in refrigerator at 2-8 degree Celsius.
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Advantages of using insulin pens

  • Easy to use particularly for young school-going children and elderly, and for patients with limited vision or manual dexterity. Patients with visual difficulty may listen to “clicks” of the pen to count the number of units.
  • Pens can be stored at room temperature for 28 days after opening. Insulin in vials has to be kept in refrigerator at 2-8 degree Celsius.
  • Some psychological benefits in ‘needle phobias’
  • Accurate dose delivery.
  • Time saving and convenient to carry around.
  • Can be used discreetly in public places e.g. restaurants.
  • Memory feature shows when and how much of the last dose has been taken.
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Drawbacks

  • Not all types of insulin comes in pens. Zinc insulin aggregate in pen cartridges.
  • It is not possible to mix two different types of insulin if needed.
  • Expensive. Price ranges around $72-250.
  • Some insulin is wasted each time while priming.
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