Patients May Be Administering Insulin All Wrong

Even adults with diabetes may be injecting insulin incorrectly which could put them at higher risk for additional conditions, according to lead author Paula M. Trief, PhD, of SUNY Upstate Medical Center.

Even adults with diabetes may be injecting insulin incorrectly which could put them at higher risk for additional conditions, according to lead author Paula M. Trief, PhD, of SUNY Upstate Medical Center.

A team of researchers assessed the insulin administration skills and behaviors of actual patients with diabetes. The findings will be discussed in a poster session on June 8 at the American Diabetes Association 75th Scientific Sessions in Boston, MA.

A total of 60 participants — consisting of 58.3% females and an average age of 57.3 – were analyzed. The team observed the patients – 78.3% of which had type 2 diabetes – inject their medication and scored them on preparation, injection, and drawing up of insulin. The participants completed a questionnaire regarding demographics, insulin knowledge, behaviors, and numeracy. After collecting A1c and blood glucose levels the study was completed.

“Incorrect administration of insulin can result in hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, glycemic excursions, and DKA,” the authors warned.

The detailed analysis revealed that 80.2% of patients prepared the insulin correctly and 86.7% performed the injection steps properly. When it came to dialing in the correct number of insulin-units, 78.5% of pen users got it right compared to 81.2% of syringe users. Only 28.3% of the patients answered all 3 numeracy questions correctly on the survey. Taking all of the observations into account, there was an 81.9% success rate.

“We conclude that errors in self-administering insulin may be common, including errors in choosing correct insulin dose,” Trief and her colleagues said.

Diabetes numeracy and injection site also proved to be areas of concern. The team advises that physicians reeducate their patients on the proper administration procedure.