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Better Discussions for Better Diabetes Care

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Why you should never reuse a needle:

The Challenge:  Many patients who inject insulin reuse needles at least once, with a significant proportion using the same needle 6 times or more.1  

• When reused, the needle is no longer sterile and may become duller, causing more painful injections.2,3
• Needle reuse may cause lipohypertrophy, which can alter insulin absorption.1,3

The Opportunity: Educate your patients on the importance of using a new needle each time they inject. Also, explain that: 

• Needles should be disposed of immediately after use in a medical sharps container or another approved sharps container, and never discarded directly into household or public trash*.
• Pen needles should not be left attached to the pen or it may affect the accuracy of dosing.3


Travel tips for patients with diabetes:


The Challenge: When a person with diabetes travels, they may face a number of additional challenges to their diabetes management, including insulin access and storage complications and changes in schedule and activity level.


The Opportunity: To help your patients manage their diabetes while traveling, share the following tips as recommended by the CDC1:

Examples of good questions to drive patient engagement:

If a patient with diabetes asks about receiving the typhoid vaccine or is preparing for an upcoming trip, use this as an opportunity to ask:

  • Where are you traveling? If you have a minute, I can give you some tips on diabetes management while traveling.
  • What questions do you have about managing your diabetes while traveling?


Supplies for patients with diabetes:


The Challenge: Some patients with diabetes may not know which supplies they need or which supplies could be helpful. They may not realize that the supplies are available in your store or know where to find them.


The Opportunity: Talk to your patients with diabetes, to make sure they have all the right supplies.

Examples of good questions to drive patient engagement:

  • What challenges do you have with testing your blood sugar?
  • What do you use to treat low blood sugar?
  •  Effective diabetes care requires a lot of supplies. Do you have a minute to make sure you have everything you need?
  • I see that you are refilling the prescription for your insulin pen (or vial) but not for your pen needles (or insulin syringes). Do you have enough pen needles (or insulin syringes), or should I refill those for you as well?

Speaking the language of diabetes:



The Challenge: Some of the language used to discuss diabetes may affect a patient’s self-image and their motivation to care for themselves.


The Opportunity: To better communicate with your patients with diabetes, use the following language:

Examples of good questions to drive patient engagement:

• How long have you had diabetes?
• How are you doing with managing your blood sugar?
• What are your biggest challenges with taking your medications?


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How to inject with an insulin syringe:

The Challenge: The ADA 2019 Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes emphasizes that proper injection technique is important to effective insulin therapy and may help with patient outcomes.1 Therefore, we need to ensure that patients and/or caregivers understand correct insulin injection technique.

The Opportunity: For patients filling a prescription for an insulin vial, offer the following assistance.

• Select the correct insulin syringe:
   – Needle length: 6mm*
   – Barrel size: see table below for guidance on selecting barrel size based on number of units of U-100 insulin

Refer to attached instructions on how to inject with an insulin syringe


How to inject with a pen needle: 

The Challenge: The ADA 2019 Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes emphasizes that proper injection technique is important to effective insulin therapy and may help with patient outcomes.1 Therefore, we need to ensure that patients and/or caregivers understand correct insulin injection technique.

The Opportunity: For patients filling a prescription for a pen needle, offer the following assistance.

• Select a 4mm pen needle*
• Refer to attached instructions on how to inject with a pen needle

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How engaging with patients with diabetes leads to better care:

The Challenge: Some of the language used to discuss diabetes may affect a patient’s self-image and their motivation to care for themselves.

The Opportunity: To better communicate with your patients with diabetes, use the following language:

• “Having diabetes” instead of “being diabetic”
• “Managing” instead of “controlling”
• Ask the patient if they are “taking their medication” instead of “complying” or “adhering”


5 important discussions for patients who are new to diabetes: 

The Challenge:  The diagnosis of diabetes can be extremely overwhelming for a person, and there is a lot to learn about successful diabetes management and self-care.

The Opportunity: Incorporate these important topics into your discussions with people who are new to diabetes: 


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Better injections through shorter needle length:

The Challenge:  Clinical guidelines recommend shorter needles, such as 4mm pen needles and 6mm insulin syringes, as they are safe, effective, and less painful compared to longer needles.1,2 Many patients still use longer needles, which may increase the risk of intramuscular injection, potentially leading to increased pain, altered insulin absorption, and hypoglycemia.1,3

The Opportunity: Dispense 4mm pen needles and 6mm insulin syringes to patients with diabetes, as the preferred choice in all patient categories.1

Click Here to view techinques and drive patient engagement!


Better injections through site rotation:

The Challenge: Lipohypertrophy, or lipo, is a common complication of insulin injection and may contribute to unpredictable insulin absorption, increased glycemic variability, and unexplained hypoglycemia when injected into.1,2. Injection site rotation appears to be critical to prevent lipo, however many patients do not if at all.2 

The Opportunity: When you dispense insulin, take a minute to educate your patients on correct injection site rotation3 and its importance. 

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