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Syringe Type Mystery

Oct 1, 2019

Insulin syringe type mystery results in confusion

My colleague and I were working with a client new to insulin. We each saw him separately. He was taking Lantus® and Humalog® by syringe at meals. He had been taught how to use the syringe by his physician’s office staff.


The other RN CDE discussed the doses with him, but he was claiming much different numbers than expected for his mealtime doses (e.g., 2 instead of 20, or 4 instead of 40). She discussed this with me after a session and I saw him in the next session. He was interested in learning to use the insulin pen, so I brought out the demonstration supplies including the pen, vial and syringes. He stated that this was not the same type of syringe he had been taught on. It took a while to clear the mystery up because he had been taught using regular 3 cc syringes and not insulin syringes. He was identifying the 0.10 marks on the syringe. We notified the staff of this and started him using syringes designed for insulin.

Lesson Learned:

It is always best to have the patient demonstrate exactly how they dose and inject their insulin, using their own supplies. What they demonstrate in the office using your supplies may be different than what they use at home.

Elizabeth S. Paukert, RN, CDE


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