How to Fix A Jammed Insulin Pen (Troubleshoot)


how to fix a jammed insulin pen

An insulin pen is a great and convenient way to administer this hormone in comparison to the vial and syringe method. However, one of the drawbacks is that the pen is more susceptible to getting jammed. If you are using an insulin pen, there are a few helpful tricks and tips so that your needle doesn’t get jammed.

To fix a jammed insulin pen, remove the damaged needle from the pen and replace it with a new one. Make sure the needle is inserted properly in the pen and sealed correctly. If one has changed the needle and it is still jammed, check for any cracks in the pen or use room temperature insulin.

Having your insulin administered is extremely important if you have diabetes, so keep reading to find out what you can do if your insulin pen becomes jammed so you can administer the correct dose of medicine.

Make Sure Needle Is On Correctly

When using an insulin pen, one of the most important factors to focus on is the needle. This is one of the main sources of a jammed insulin pen. Make sure your needle is twisted on tightly and securely. 

Repeated Use Of The Same Needle

They If you suspect that there is something wrong with your needle, make sure you are not trying to use the same needle. Repeated use of your needle will dull the needle, causing more pain. This also puts you more at risk for injury (if you are attempting to reattach) or contamination from exposure to air. 

When removing your old needle, utilize your needle guard (larger outside cover) to attach to your needle and remove it by turning it counterclockwise. This will help you prevent a self-sticking injury. 

Make Sure You Are Using Correct Type of Needle

On the other hand, you could be in a situation where you are using a brand-new needle, yet the pen is still not working. Perhaps you are using the wrong type of needle. As suggested in Diabetes Self-Management, you don’t need to be using a needle that is longer than 4-6 millimeters (unless otherwise stated by your doctor).

A longer needle gives more opportunity for your needle to bend. A bent needle may prevent you from administering the proper dose of insulin, or cause you unnecessary pain. Your pen may respond as though it were jammed. A smaller needle is more user-friendly and causes less pain.

Not only should you be making sure that you have a proper needle, but you also need to ensure that your needle is compatible with your pen. (Source)

Your ordering medical provider and pharmacist should know which needles are compatible with which meter. Some providers have their favorites, and some will order a needle that suits your body structure.

You can talk to your pharmacist, doctor, or diabetes educator about the size of your needles if you have questions, but generally, your ordering provider will prescribe the right size needle.

Needle Gauge To Wide (Thickness)

If your needle has too wide of a gauge, it can also cause your insulin pen to jam.

Again, when attaching the needle, it is important to make sure that you are positioning and screwing on the needle properly. If the needle is not properly positioned, it can make your injection more painful, or it can jam your pen altogether.

Educator’s Friendly Reminder:

Remember that it is illegal to throw your used needles in your trash. They are to go into a labeled sharps disposal container. (If you do not have a container, I recommend using an empty coffee or empty laundry soap container.) Take your sharps container to a designated collection site. They are not recyclable.

Check Insulin Pen Dial

If you are new to using an insulin pen, it can be a bit tricky to get the routine down. If you feel like you aren’t receiving the right dosage of insulin or none at all, make sure that you aren’t accidentally winding the dial at the top of the pen. It can be easy to accidentally wind the dial down to 0 units instead of pressing the button at the top of the pen. Diabetes Self-Management.

Just remember to be very cautious while you are administering your insulin. While the needle is in your skin, make sure to keep an eye on the dial to make sure that you are injecting the proper amount of insulin.

Prime the Insulin Pen (Safety Test)

Whether you are having issues with a jammed pen or not, it is extremely important to prime the insulin pen (also known as doing a safety test) before injecting it into your body. Basically, you are going to make sure that the pen is administering insulin properly before placing the needle into your skin to avoid any unnecessary pain or irritation, and to make sure your pen is working. 

To perform a safety test, you will screw on the needle as you would normally (remove both caps) and make sure that you tap any air bubbles that may be in the insulin. Air bubbles can sometimes get inside and can make it harder to press down the button, making it feel like the pen is jammed.

Are having trouble while priming the pen? Then put the outer cap on the lid, wind the dial to 2 units, and try to press the button again. If your insulin pen is still not working, then replace your needle and try again. Once your pen is working, make sure that you take your needle off of the pen when you are finished. Leaving the needle on allows air bubbles to enter the insulin vial, which can make it more difficult to administer the insulin.

Checking For Cold Insulin

Unopened insulin pens need to stay in the refrigerator (36°F – 46°F  or 2°C – 8°C). Once they are opened, you need to make sure that your pen stays at room temperature (59°F – 86°F or 15°C – 30°C) so make sure to avoid putting your insulin pen in hot or cold places like the fridge or freezer.

Make sure not to leave insulin out in the sun, in your car’s glove compartment, etc. If your insulin is too cold, not only will it be painful to inject, but it can be a reason that your pen is getting jammed.

Freezing temperatures will break down your insulin and it will not lower your blood sugars.

Faulty or Broken Insulin Pen

There are around 5 areas or parts to check on most insulin pens. The following parts could become faulty or broken, be sure to check all 5 of them.

Bad Threads

If your threads are cracked or broken for some reason, this could be the culprit, there is no real way to fix this other than get a different insulin pen.

Broken Insulin Reservoir

Your insulin reservoir leaked and is completely empty or may have air or bubbles, this could make it difficult to administer your insulin.

Bad Rubber Seal

Check the rubber seal where the needle is and make sure there is nothing wrong with it. Unscrew the needle and check to see if there is a rubber seal and if it has gone bad.

Injection Button Broke

The injection button that administers the insulin may have just broken for some reason and is just not functioning the way it should.

Bad Dose Selector

As mentioned earlier I went over the fact that the dial might have gotten twisted to zero, but also it may just be faulty if the pen was dropped or hit for some reason.

In all these cases you more than likely may need a replacement.

Can I Get A Replacement Insulin Pen?

If you have done everything to fix your jammed insulin pen to no avail, the next best option would be to talk to your pharmacist or the pen manufacturer for help or to receive a replacement. Don’t try to take apart your pen and fix it yourself; look into getting a replacement pen. At some locations, your diabetes care and education specialist can replace your pen.

Final Thoughts on Jammed Insulin Pen

The administration of. Insulin has come a long way over the years. Even though we have a prefilled injection device with small needles for greater ease of use, greater accuracy in delivery, and less pain, they still may have issues now and then.

I have provided some helpful tips for you to use if you are having problems with your pen. If nothing seems to work, call your diabetes education specialist, nurse, or pharmacist. We are happy to assist you.  

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