Professionals Should Get Sharp About Choosing the Right Syringe for Their Patients

For diabetes patients who inject insulin through a syringe, the people atBecton-Dickinson (BD) say that they should always know exactly whichbrand, dose capacity and needle size to use and why.

“Some physicians leave the choice of the syringe to the patient andpharmacist,” says BD, adding that its arsenal of insulin syringes come in 17different sizes and types to meet a wide variety of patient needs. “If [thepatient] is not actively involved in the choice of an insulin syringe, and thepharmacist does not know the details of [the patient’s] insulin regimen, [thepatient] may not get the syringe that is best … every time.

According to BD, when patients change their syringe, it can affect theirdiabetes control. BD emphasizes that changes should be made only afterdiscussion between the patient and his or her healthcare professional.

“Patients need to participate in selecting their syringe and should insist ongetting that same syringe every time a prescription is refilled,” says BD.

Selecting a Syringe

BD insulin syringes are available in sizes that hold up to 30 units, 50 units or100 units of insulin.

“Since it’s easier to read the scale markings on smaller syringes, you shouldalways choose the smallest syringe that will hold your dose,” says BD. Themanufacturer offers a choice of two different dose scales for people using30-unit syringes; one is marked in 1-unit increments for easy reading,and the other is marked in half-units for those making very small doseadjustments.

BD syringes are available in two different needle lengths: 1/2" (12.7 mm) and5/16" (8 mm).

“Most people find the short-needle syringe to be the most comfortable,while others prefer the half-inch needle. Whichever you choose, a change ofneedle length should always be discussed first with your doctor.”

The thickness of a needle is called the gauge. The thinner the needle, thehigher the gauge number. The BD half-inch syringe needles are 30 gauge,and the short needles are 31 gauge. No brand has thinner insulin syringeneedles than BD.

For more information on BD insulin syringes and other products, go

Why Use a Syringe?

Before looking at tips for selecting a syringe, let’s review why syringesremain the most popular choice for taking insulin. There are several ways totake insulin other than with a syringe, each with its own advantages anddisadvantages. Here are some of the benefits of using insulin syringes:

  • Syringes can be used with all types of insulin, from rapid acting to long actingto premixes, and they can also be used to take a combination of short- andintermediate-acting insulin in one injection.
  • Syringes are widely available; virtually every pharmacy in the United Statesstocks them.
  • You can accurately measure your exactdosage every time, whether you injectvery large or very small doses. You caneven make adjustments as small as ahalf-unit if you are trying to achievetight control.
  • Syringes are small and easy to carryif you need to take insulin away fromhome.
  • You can be confident that you receivedyour entire dose when you see theempty syringe after injecting.

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