If you have diabetes and take insulin using an insulin pen, you may be one of many who are not using the pen correctly. Many insulin pens have a dial on one end of the pen to "dial-up the dose" (Figure 1, top). That same end has a button that needs to be pushed so the dose can be delivered (Figure 1, bottom).

We recently learned that some individuals have been dialing the dose correctly but then, after inserting the pen's needle under the skin, they dialed the dose back down to zero believing that action would deliver the dose. Instead of dialing-down the dose, they should have pushed the button to deliver the dialed dose of insulin. Without pushing the button, the dose of insulin was never given.

Obviously, insulin that never reaches the patient is going to result in a high blood sugar (glucose) level. These errors were discovered by the patients' doctors, nurses, or diabetic educators who asked the individuals to demonstrate how they were giving their insulin.

Figure 1: The correct way to administer a dose using the Lantus SoloStar (insulin glargine) pen and other similar insulin pens is to dial the correct dose (top) and then push the button once the needle is below the skin (bottom).

If you use an insulin pen, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, nurse, or diabetic educator about how to use the pen correctly. If a family member or other caregiver gives you your insulin, make sure they understand how to use the device as well.

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