Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a notice (PDF), reminding health care providers that insulin pens are intended for use by a single patient, and should never be used on more than one patient. CDC indicates that the agency has become “increasingly aware of reports of improper use of insulin pens, which places individuals at risk of infection with pathogens including hepatitis viruses and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).” The notice explains that regurgitation of blood into the insulin cartridge can occur after injection, creating a risk of bloodborne pathogen transmission if the pen is used for more than one person, even when the needle is changed. CDC provides the following recommendations to help protect patient safety:
- Insulin pens containing multiple doses of insulin are meant for use on a single person only, and should never be used for more than one person, even when the needle is changed.
- Insulin pens should be clearly labeled with the person’s name or other identifying information to ensure that the correct pen is used only on the correct individual.
- Hospitals and other facilities should review their policies and educate their staff regarding safe use of insulin pens and similar devices.
- If reuse is identified, exposed persons should be promptly notified and offered appropriate follow-up including bloodborne pathogen testing.
Additional information and links to related resources are available on the CDC Web site.