Health Tips

Insulin Information

|   BDS Health Tips

Learn about syringe usage and re-usage guidelines, how to mix insulin and safe practices for syringes.

Insulin Syringes


The syringe capacity must match the insulin dose.

The smaller syringes are better for patients on smaller doses because the lines on the syringes are easier to see.

Half-unit scale syringes are for people with very small doses or using half units.

u Pinching of the skin is needed with > 6mm needles

u The needle is inserted into the skin in a 90 degree angle for needles 8mm or less, and a 45 degree angle for needles 12.7 mm



Mixing Insulin


u A mixed dose of insulin mixes a short or rapid-acting insulin with an intermediate-acting insulin NPH in the same syringe.

u Short or rapid-acting insulin should always be filled first.

u Crystal dissociation occurs when  rapid-acting insulins are exposed to other insulins such as NPH.

u Therefore, once one of these insulins is mixed with NPH, it needs to be administered within 5 minutes






Storage of Insulin Vials, Pens or Cartridges


u Store in the refrigerator; it can be used until the expiration date.

u Insulin should never be frozen.

u Once punctured, it can be stored at room temperature (59-86 F) (15-30 C).

u Open vials are to be discarded after 28-30 days; the potency of the insulin may be altered after that.




Storage of Insulin Vials, Pens or Cartridges


u Insulin should be discarded if:

u Clear insulin becomes cloudy or discolored

u Cloudy insulin has crystals that do not dissolve with rolling

u There is a question of potency




Syringe Reuse

u For reasons of economics, syringe availability, or disposal restrictions, some people may reuse disposable syringes

u The ADA conducted studies that suggest that it is probably safe and practical for syringes to be reused if a patient wishes to.




Insulin Syringe Reuse Guidelines

u Flush the syringe with air after use to prevent the needle from clogging with insulin sticking to the sides of the syringe.

u Do not wipe the needle with alcohol.

u Recap needle when not being used.

u Store the syringe to be reused at room temperature.

u Keep the outside of the syringe clean and dry; handle only when necessary.

u Do not reuse a needle that is bent or dull.

u Throw the syringe away if the needle touches anything other than the skin at the injection site or the top of the insulin bottle.

u Clean the top of the insulin bottle with alcohol before drawing up insulin.

u Observe injection sites for signs of infection.

u With repeated use, needles may become dull and unit markings on the syringe may wear off. It is therefore recommended that syringes only be reused within a 24-hour period.

u People who should not reuse insulin syringes would include those with:

u Poor personal hygiene

u Open hand wounds

u Known susceptibility to infection

u Immunosuppression or who are immunocompromised



Safe Syringe Disposal

u Do not recap, bend, or break needles.

u Place into puncture-resistant containers.

u Do not place in regular trash.

u Do not label as needles.