According to Reuters, a new study has determined that many people with diabetes who inject themselves with insulin have been doing so improperly.
Dr. Kenneth Strauss mentioned in an email to Reuters Health that insulin injections are not simple and require a lot more training than people think. He also stated that many insulin users are injecting themselves with little to no training on proper technique.
42 countries were included in the study, and researchers found that an alarming number of patients are not correctly injecting themselves. This leads to worse glucose control, poorer healt outcomes, and higher financial costs.
The researchers for the study surveyed 13,289 people at 423 medical centers from 2014 to2015. 10 percent of the respondents said that they have never received formal injection instructions while more than 60 percent of respondents stated that their primary healthcare providers had not recently gone over injection instructions with them. A group 200 experts used the responses to develop their formal recommendations.
One of the recommendations is to use the shortest needle possible, which are safe, effective, and less painful. A 4-millimeter needle is available on insulin pens, and the shortest syringe needle is 6 millimeters.
Dr. Strauss also declared that by using the shortest needles available, patients can avoid intramuscular injections which can lead to low blood sugar, including the kind that can land someone in the emergency room. Only half of the people that were surveyed were using the 4-mm or 6-mm needles.
Experts also announced ways to prevent small lumps known as lipohypertrophy, which happens when an injection site is used over and over again. It is recommended that patients rotate sites because if lumps do develop, injecting into those sites will adversely affect how the insulin is absorbed.
Lipohypertrophy was tied to higher average blood sugar level, which is known as glycated hemoglobin. High glycated hemoglobin is a sign of poor blood sugar control and was seen in people who do not rotate their injection site and who reuse needles.
Dr. Strauss indicated that if everyone would rotate their injection site, lipos would most likely disappear, insulin consumption would fall, and the U.S. would save millions. He also added that pen needles and syringes should only be used once.
The experts also indicated that the need for insulin can cause psychological challenges, which need to be addressed in order for people to manage their disease effectively.
Dr. Robert Gabbay, chief medical officer and senior vice president of the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, commented that the study demonstrates that there are tools out there which are not being adequately addressed in patient/provider communications.