Skip to main content

Disposable insulin syringe reuse and aseptic practices in diabetic patients

Abstract

Diabetic patients are traditionally taught to discard plastic syringe/needle units after a single use and to employ aseptic technique for administering insulin injections. We surveyed 87 diabetic outpatients for compliance with aseptic recommendations. We then studied prospectively the effects of reusing disposable syringes in 56 diabetic patients who reused syringes a mean of 6.6 times for 8.3 months and an aggregate of 23,664 injections. Almost half (49%) of diabetic patients in a combined university clinic and private practice reused supposedly disposable insulin syringes a mean of 3.9 times. Compliance with standard aseptic precautions was poor, with only 29% of patients following recommended practices. No adverse effect of syringe reuse was identified. The authors conclude that diabetic patients frequently reuse disposable syringes, without apparent harmful effect.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Borders LM, Bingham PR, Riddle MC. Traditional insulin-use practices and the incidence of bacterial contamination and infection. Diabetes Care 1984;7:121–7.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Strathclyde Diabetic Group. Disposable or non-disposable syringes and needles for diabetics? Br Med J 1983;286:369–70.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Greenough A, Cockcroft PM, Bloom A. Disposable syringes for insulin injection. Br Med J 1979;1:1467–8.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Danker J, Dranger NM. Sterility problems and the diabetic. Lancet 1978;1:1256.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Kovisto VA, Felig P. Is skin preparation necessary before insulin injection? Lancet 1978;1:1072–3.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Dann TC. Routine skin preparation before injection: an unnecessary procedure. Lancet 1969;2:96–8.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Hodge RH, Krongaard L, Sande MA, Kaiser DL. Multiple use of disposable insulin syringe-needle units. JAMA 1980;244:266–7.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Aziz S. Recurrent use of disposable syringe—needle units in diabetic children. Diabetes Care 1984;7:118–20.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Canilang B, Armstrong D. Subcutaneous abscesses due toMycobacterium fortuitum. Am Rev Resp Dis 1968;97:451–4.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Jackson PG, Keen H, Noble CJ, Simmons NA. Injection abscesses in a diabetic due toMycobacterium chelonei abssessus. Br Med J 1980;281:1105–6.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Leigh DA, Hough GW. Dangers of storing glass syringes in surgical spirit. Br Med J 1980;281:541–2.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Swift PGF, Hearnshaw JR. Insulin injections and infections. Br Med J 1981;282:1323.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Joslin EP: Treatment of diabetes mellitus. 4th ed. Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger, 1928;91.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Joslin EP: Treatment of diabetes mellitus. 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger, 1940;324.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Lester E, Woodroffe FJ, Grant AJ. Experience with routine reuse of plastic syringes. Br Med J 1984;2:1498–9.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Oli JM, Gugnani HC, Ojiegbe GC. Multiple use of ordinary disposable syringes for insulin injections. Br Med J 1982;1:236–7.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Stepanas TV, Turley H, Tuchy EA. Reuse of disposable insulin syringes. Med J Aust 1982;1:311–3.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  18. Collins BJ, Richardson SG, Spence BK, Hunter J, Nelson JK. Safety of reusing disposable plastic insulin syringes. Lancet 1983;1:559–61.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  19. Elek SD. Experimental staphylococcal infections in the skin of man. Ann NY Acad Sci 1956;65:85–9.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Additional information

Received from the Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, Mississippi.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Thomas, D.R., Fischer, R.G., Nicholas, W.C. et al. Disposable insulin syringe reuse and aseptic practices in diabetic patients. J Gen Intern Med 4, 97–100 (1989). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02602347

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02602347

Key words

  • diabetes
  • syringe
  • insulin
  • diabetic therapy