India: 90% of diabetics reuse insulin needles, says study

According to the guidelines released by Forum for Injection Technique and Therapy Expert Recommendations (FITTER) India 2017, 90 per cent of diabetic patients in India have been reusing needles used for injecting insulin which is putting them at a higher risk of getting infections. A staggering figure, to say the least

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A survey of city-based Chellaram Diabetes Institute (CDI) has found that around 90 per cent of diabetic patients in India have been reusing needles used for injecting insulin which is putting them at a higher risk of getting infections.

Doctors from the institute emphasized on the need for more awareness which is required amongst patients who are injecting insulin.  They were speaking on the backdrop of the guidelines released by Forum for Injection Technique and Therapy Expert Recommendations (FITTER) India 2017 recently.

Commenting on the scenario of diabetes and insulin in India, Dr AG Unnikrishnan, Chief Endocrinologist, CDI said, “Around 42 countries participated in the survey which was undertaken by FITTER before it released its guidelines. Around 1000 patients from across India were surveyed from 20 centres. CDI surveyed 40 patients. The overall survey from India has highlighted that 92.5 per cent patients injecting insulin were found to be reusing the needle. Out of these around 44.2 per cent were reusing the needle three to five times while 24.5 per cent were reusing the needle six to ten times. Apart from this 17.5 per cent were found to be reusing the needle over ten times which is alarming.”

Dr Unnikrishnan added that around 80.5 per cent were also found to be reusing the syringe used for injecting insulin.

Dr Vedavati Purandare, MD Medicine, Consultant Physician, CDI said that this is one of the largest surveys of its kind ever performed in diabetes and provides landmark data on Indian injectors.

“Despite the fact that India is ahead of the curve in using the shortest needles, there is a disturbingly high rate of needle reuse with both syringes and pens. The patients reuse their syringes mostly for convenience or to save costs.”

The doctors emphasized that reuse of needles or syringes can cause bleeding and even lead to infections in patients. They added that a needle or a syringe should be used just once.

The doctors said that The FITTER India recommendations are based on Global Injection Technique Questionnaire Study, updates on local and global clinical evidence after robust published literature search and the global FITTER meeting that was held in Rome in the year 2015 and included over 150 key opinion leaders from all over the world and more than 15000 healthcare professionals who connected virtually to the Congress.

Speaking about the recommendations released by FITTER, doctors from CDI said, “The key recommendations of FITTER are that the shortest needles, currently 4 mm for pens and  6mm in syringes, are safe, effective and less painful and should be the first line of choice in all patient categories.”

“FITTER recommendations also suggest that regular inspection of injection sites, preventing reuse of needle, correct site rotation, influence the success of insulin injection therapy. Also, it recommends that ideally needles should not be reused as blunt needles can damage tissues resulting in injection pain and also result in higher dose of insulin leading to higher therapy cost burden to the patient.”