Understanding Insulin Pumps

14 Aug

Basic function:pump1

~200-300 units of short acting insulin is in the insulin reservoir. This connects through the tubing to be infused via the cannula to the subcutaneous tissue of the patient.

Frequent BG monitoring is still required.  In fact more these patients check more frequently than patients without pumps d/t the possibility of pump problems.

-Patients have a basal rate they get continuously and then type in their desired bolus amount with meals.

-Patients need to move the needle site every 2-3 days (otherwise increased risk of infection and decrease in glycemic control)



  1. Local reactions to adhesive or insulin preparation
  2. Lipohypertrophy or lipoatrophy
  3. Cellulitis at the needle insertion site
  4. Pump failure. Any part of the device can fail- dead batteries, kinked/cracked tubing, depleted or broken reservoir…
  5. Air in tubing causing missed insulin
  6. Insulin leakage (at insertion site or infusion set connection site causing missed insulin


* Pumps frequently will not given any indication that there is a problem

* As the patient is getting only short-acting insulin, device failure can rapidly lead to DKA. 


Submitted by Heather Groth.



Academic Life in Emergency Medicine

Pickup, John. “Insulin-Pump Therapy for Type I Diabetes Mellitus” N Engl J Med 2012; 366:1616-1624

UCSF Website: http://dtc.ucsf.edu/types-of-diabetes/type2/treatment-of-type-2-diabetes/medications-and-therapies/type-2-pump-rx/


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