Insulin Safety

In 2017, the CDC reported that the estimated number of people of all ages living with diabetes is 30.3 million, or 9.4 percent of the population in the United States. Insulin is a long-standing option in diabetes treatment, required for those with Type 1 and essential in the treatment of many with Type 2.

Insulin is available in various concentrations to individualize therapy for each person with diabetes. When you inject insulin, keep in mind the following precautions.

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1. Review your insulin prescription label. Double-check that the name of your insulin and the concentration match your prescription.

2. In some cases, the name of the insulin may be the same, but the concentration is different. The wrong concentration could result in unexpected and sometimes severe hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia.

3. Know the “color” of your insulin vial or pen. Manufacturers often differentiate the type and concentration of the insulin with color.

4. If the concentration of your insulin has changed and you are uncertain about how to administer your insulin appropriately, consult with your diabetes care team, diabetes educator, and/or pharmacist.

5. Do not draw up your dose from an insulin pen with a syringe. No U-200 or U-300 syringes are available, so if you draw up a dose from a U-200, U-300, or U-500 insulin with a leftover U-100 syringe, severe hypoglycemia can result.

6. If another individual in your home uses insulin that is a different concentration than yours, store the insulins in different areas to avoid grabbing the wrong one and administering the wrong dose.

7. If you take a pre-mixed insulin (one that contains two types of insulin), be familiar with the characteristics and concentration for both. For pre-mixed medications that contain insulin and a non-insulin injectable, the same holds true.

8. Never share your insulin or delivery device with other people. This may result in a serious infection for one or both of you.

9. If admitted to the hospital and you use a different concentration of insulin than U-100, be sure to clarify this with the hospital health-care team. Bring the pen or syringe you use at home to show the staff.

10. When traveling outside of the U.S., be certain you have an ample supply of your insulin. Available concentrations of insulin may vary from country to country.

11. Each time the prescription is filled, read the “Medication Guide” that comes with your insulin (also available on the manufacturer’s website). The guide is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is updated over time with important safety information.