Diabetes Self-Management Articles

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Go Ahead, Pick Your Pump
Which Pump Is Right for You?

by Gary Scheiner, MS, CDE

Currently, some pumps have the ability to take data directly from a blood glucose meter when performing bolus calculations (thus saving you the time of manually entering the readings). Others can display data from a continuous glucose monitor, but the data is not used to adjust insulin doses.

Is the clip or case easy and convenient?
I never thought this would be as important as it is. Given the basic similarities between pumps, I have found that many people select their pump purely based on how easy it is to wear. Again, the pump will be attached to you almost continuously for years, so you want to make sure it is going to be comfortable and convenient to have around. Although there are multiple companies that offer stylish and versatile pump pouches and cases (including Unique Accessories, Pump Wear, Inc., and Angel Bear Pump Stuff), the clip or case that is customized to fit the pump by the manufacturer is still used by most pump users. The OmniPod attaches directly to your body, so there is no need for a clip or case.

Can you use your preferred infusion set?
Infusion sets are to pumps like tires are to cars in that they make that all-important final contact. There are many varieties and styles of infusion sets, and some people have more success with certain ones. While all pumps (except for the OmniPod) connect with a variety of angled or “straight-in” infusion sets, using either a stainless steel or a flexible Teflon cannula below the skin, only pumps that utilize a universal connection called a Luer lock will work with just about every type of infusion set on the market. The Roche, Animas, and Tandem pumps use a Luer lock connection. The Medtronic and Sooil pumps, however, use a proprietary connection. The OmniPod currently has only one type of infusion system: a flexible 8-millimeter Teflon tube inserted at an angle.

Are there specific safety features that you will need?
While all pumps have basic safety features to prevent accidental over-delivery of insulin and optional nonspecific reminders (such as a daily alert at a certain time), other safety features may be desirable for enhancing your pump experience and preventing potential problems. For example, alarms can be set to detect possible missed meal or snack boluses. And since it is very important to change the pump’s infusion set on a consistent schedule, it can be very helpful to have a customizable site-change reminder.

Are the size and appearance pleasing to you?
For most people, size and image do matter. Your choice may depend on how big you are, your desire to conceal the pump, and how or where you intend to wear it. In general, smaller is usually better. The OmniPod is by far the smallest pump, and the lack of tubing makes it very discreet. However, a programmer the size of a Palm Pilot must be carried along with it.

Are loaner pumps easy to get and inexpensive?
If you plan to do a great deal of traveling, camping, etc., you may want to have access to loaner pumps to bring as backup. This is not usually an issue for those who are upgrading their pumps (because they have their old pump to use as a backup), but it can be important for first-time pump users.

Will your insurance pay for a particular model?
Given the cost of pumps, perhaps this should be the first thing you check into. Most major insurance companies will cover any pump you prefer, but some offer preferred pricing (lower copayments) for certain pumps, and some (including Medicare) will only cover pumps manufactured by companies with whom they have direct contracts. If you have difficulty getting answers on your own, each pump company has an insurance billing department that will gladly help you to determine whether their pump will be covered by your insurance.

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Also in this article:
Online Pump Reviews
Pump Manufacturers



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Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.



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