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Variety of Brands and Mixes of Insulin Medications Can Be Confusing to Patients

Mar 9, 2014

A patient came to my office to learn to use long-acting insulin. The referring provider’s note stated that the new patient, who was establishing care without outside records, was taking only mealtime insulin: NovoLog. During my assessment, the patient stated "NovoLog 75/25" was used three times per day, before meals. Knowing that Novo does not make a 75/25 mix, and having read the provider’s note, I clarified whether the insulin was a mixed insulin and whether the patient truly took it three times per day before meals. The patient repeated, yes, that was the case.

I explained that a company often makes several types of insulin, such as Humalog Mix 75/25, Humalog Mix 50/50, Humalog, etc. I asked the patient whether the provider was told that the insulin was a mix or 75/25. The patient was unsure. When the patient retrieved the actual vial, the insulin was indeed Humalog Mix 75/25. I reported the miscommunication to the provider, to guide our next steps.

Lessons learned: Patients often do not know the name of the medications they take or that a brand of insulin can have several formulations.

  • Assess patients’ medication regimens.
  • Confirm what patients say by showing them pictures of different insulin formulations, which are easy to obtain online or from pharmaceutical reps.
  • Make sure to have outside records that include a list of the patient’s medications.

Ann Heesacker

Copyright © 2014 Diabetes In Control, Inc.


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