Acta Diabetologica

, Volume 52, Issue 6, pp 1017–1024 | Cite as

Clinical review: insulin pump-associated adverse events in adults and children

  • P. L. Ross
  • J. Milburn
  • D. M. Reith
  • E. Wiltshire
  • B. J. WheelerEmail author
Review Article



Insulin pumps are a vital and rapidly developing tool in the treatment of type 1 diabetes mellitus in both adults and children. Many studies have highlighted outcomes and assessed their potential advantages, but much of the data on adverse outcomes are limited and often based on outdated technology. We aimed to review and summarize the available literature on insulin pump-associated adverse events in adults and children.


A literature search was undertaken using PubMed, EMBASE, and the Cochrane library. Articles were then screened by title, followed by abstract, and full text as needed. A by-hand search of reference lists in identified papers was also utilised. All searches were limited to English language material, but no time limits were used.


Current and past literature regarding insulin pump-associated adverse events is discussed, including potential metabolic and non-metabolic adverse events, in particular: pump malfunction; infusion set/site issues; and cutaneous problems. We show that even with modern technology, adverse events are common, occurring in over 40 % of users per year, with a minority, particularly in children, requiring hospital management. Hyperglycaemia and ketosis are now the most common consequences of adverse events and are usually associated with infusion set failure. This differs from older technology where infected infusion sites predominated.


This timely review covers all potential insulin pump-associated adverse events, including their incidence, features, impacts, and contributory factors such as the pump user. The importance of ongoing anticipatory education and support for patients and families using this intensive insulin technology is highlighted, which if done well should improve the overall experience of pump therapy for users, and hopefully reduce the incidence and impact of severe adverse events.


Type 1 diabetes Insulin pump Continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion Adverse event 


Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical standard

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.

Human and animal rights

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. L. Ross
    • 1
  • J. Milburn
    • 2
  • D. M. Reith
    • 1
  • E. Wiltshire
    • 3
  • B. J. Wheeler
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Women’s and Children’s HealthUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand
  2. 2.Paediatric EndocrinologySouthern District Health BoardDunedinNew Zealand
  3. 3.Department of Paediatrics and Child HealthUniversity of Otago WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand
  4. 4.Edgar National Centre for Diabetes and Obesity ResearchUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

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