A study of state hospitals by the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority focusing on medication errors found dispensing insulin to be among the most frequent mistakes made. Twenty percent of patients were given the wrong kind of insulin from the pharmacy, 18.4 percent were given the wrong mix of insulin, and 17.4 percent of the mistakes were from misreading the prescription written by the doctor.
Here’s one reason for the confusion: According to the American Diabetes Association, there are 13 different types of insulin available in five different categories (premixed, long-lasting, intermediate, short, and rapid-acting). Brand names such as Humalog and Humulin, or Novolog and Novolin, can be easily misread.
The study suggests doctors, or their assistants, taking the time to ask their patients to name the kinds of insulin(s) being prescribed and identify how it should be used.