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Disasters Averted

Disasters Averted are stories submitted by our readers and medical editors from direct experience in the field. Do you have a story? If your story is used, we will send you a $25 Amazon Gift Card! Submissions can be anonymous.

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Calibrating Correctly

A VA Pharmacist received an order for 40 units of U-500 insulin and questioned its validity. The actual dose desired by the physician was 200 units. The physician indicated the 40 units reflected the mark on a U 100 syringe to which the patient was to draw back the plunger.  This was found to be a common practice so the VA developed a system requirement which required physicians to indicate the total units/mls (Example: 200 units/.4ml) for U 500. Insulin must be in the chart and syringes calibrated in mls must be used.

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Excessive Needle Bruising Conundrum

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A physician asked me to see his patient, a middle-aged woman who was using an insulin pen.  She had extensive bruising at her injection sites, with no simple explanation.  She was not taking any medications associated with increased bleeding, and did not bruise easily otherwise. The physician wondered if there was something else about her injection technique that produced the bruising.

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Pharmacist’s Diligence Saves Patient’s Health and Money

I am a retail pharmacist working in a busy chain pharmacy.  A patient came in and requested a temporary supply of his Crestor 40 mg tablets because he had run out of tablets before he was eligible for a refill through insurance.  I checked his profile and noticed that it had been 1 1/2 months since his last 90 day refill so I asked why he had run out.  He said that his doctor had told him to double up and take 80 mg daily.  This didn't sound correct, but it was after office hours and the patient was adamant that these were his doctor's instructions and that he would have to stop his medication if I didn't dispense to him. 

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Pump Setting Changes May Go Unnoticed

Recently a pump user reported a sudden increase in her glucose levels lasting a couple of days. Her blood sugars were elevated to 275-320mg/dL, with no ketones present.  Changing her infusion sets did not help. Nor did rotating to a new injection site or even using a fresh vial of insulin. After reviewing her insulin pump we noticed a symbol on her “home screen” saying that a special feature was running.

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Whose Responsibility is this ARB Issue?

This may not be an actual “physical” disaster averted yet because we don’t know the long-term effects on the people who have taken the ARBs and possibly other medications that were tainted with carcinogens or other “poisons.” When we (health care providers) were first notified of this issue, my first …

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Be Aware, Proactive to Manage PCOS

Woman, 43 years of age, PCOS, prediabetes, BMI 26, B/P 130/70, A1C 5.5%, Lipids, TC-156, HDL 52, Trig 76, LDL 84, mother of 3 children, visited today. She reports that her mother had PCOS, so was very carefully watching her as a child and adolescent hoping to prevent her from developing the complications of PCOS, such as infertility, obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and/or cancer later in life.

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Consider More Accountability as a Treatment for Some Patients

Male, 57 years of age, type 2 diabetes. He started with us 6 months ago. When he started seeing us, he was taking  glipizide 10mg twice a day and metformin 1,000 twice daily for his glucose. His A1C was 7.5%, his BMI was 24. We stopped his glipizide and started him on a SGLT-2 and a weekly GLP-1. He met with the dietitian and made some big dietary changes, at least at the start. He also started wearing a CGM and was in our remote monitoring program. He sent me his CGM readings weekly for 4 months. He was doing so well, we decided he need not send me his weekly numbers but rather we’d review during his visits.

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Samples Are Not the Answer

adding an sglt2 inhibitor to insulin

A woman, 72 years of age was recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. She has a Medicare plan. I don’t know her financial situation but do know she gets Social Security and has other retirement income. Her A1C was rising. We had recommended and taught lifestyle changes which she had difficulty with; she made some changes but not enough to lower her glucose. We added metformin which she did not tolerate, so we discussed one of the SGLT-2s. After hesitating, she agreed to trying one. We gave her samples, she took them. Her A1C lowered to the goal we mutually decided upon.

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How Do You Talk with Your Patients?

As noted in our Editor's Letter, David Joffe discusses the importance of how we talk with patients. And to that I'll add...how or if we listen to our patients. David's letter made me think about what we say to patients when they are at risk, when they are diagnosed, and during the treatment phase. If we keep current with our knowledge of diseases — in this case, diabetes — and share what we know today but be clear that we may learn more and differently in the future, the patient may be more open to accept changes and work toward their health goals while at the same time taking into consideration what is known and currently available.

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