As a diabetic, you have a lot of decisions to make. Some of them involve changes in your lifestyle habits, while others have to do with your actual physical health. Choosing the best equipment to monitor your diabetes is important, right down to your fingerstick devices, also known as lancets. Diabetic lancets come in different brands, styles, and sizes, and are used to obtain a drop of blood for testing.
Diabetic lancets – an overview
The reusable devices look much like a writing pen and functions much like one, utilizing a spring that triggers the lancet or needle against the skin and then quickly retracts it. Some devices come with a dial that allows the user to change depth of penetration depending on where the blood draw is taken and the thickness of skin. This is especially helpful for those who have built up calluses on their fingertips.
These devices are designed to easily disengage and replace the lancet following every use, although the device itself can be repeatedly used. Even so, the CDC recommends that the device itself not be used by more than one person because of the necessity (and difficulty) to adequately sterilize the device.
Single-use, disposable fingerstick devices are designed to prevent reuse with a unique, auto-disabling feature (the lancet retracts permanently back into the device following skin puncture).
Used lancets are to be disposed of the same way as other “sharps” in an approved sharps container.
Are diabetic lancets expensive?
Anyone on a fixed income knows that every penny counts. The cost of lancets varies by brand, the number of lancets (needles) in a box, as well as needle gauge. Prices range $8 to $65 a box. Most boxes contain 100 or 200 single-use needles.
Gauge can also have an influence on costs. The higher the gauge number, the smaller the prick the lancet makes. The less painful, higher gauge lancets sometimes make it more difficult to get a measurable drop of blood. The location of the blood draw also has an influence on gauge. Smaller, thinner lancets maybe preferred for use on blood draws from the abdomen than from a fingertip.
Lancets and lancet devices are considered a durable medical equipment (DME) by Medicare and so most lancet devices are covered under Medicare Part B. Even so, costs may tempt some diabetics to reuse lancets.
Is it safe to reuse diabetic lancets?
The CDC strongly recommends against reusing any fingerstick devices and lancets, especially by more than one person. Risks of sharing the devices as well as reusing needles increases the risk of HBV infection as well as other blood-borne illnesses.
According to the CDC, several outbreaks of hepatitis B virus (HBV) have been linked to improper blood glucose monitoring in the past decade, with roughly 15 outbreaks not only among individuals, but healthcare providers who have failed to observe basic safety and infection control measures when assisting individuals with glucose monitoring. Proper training and education is essential, not only for professionals, but for diabetics who use such devices.
Many of the HBV cases occurred in long-term care facilities, but are possible anywhere that safety standards are not observed. In 2010, a huge number of attendees of a local health fair were exposed to potential blood-borne viruses when the health fair providers reused fingerstick devices (not the needles/lancets) in diabetic screenings. Another incident in Texas involved over 2,000 individuals who were cautioned to obtain blood-borne virus testing after insulin pens used on multiple people.
It’s an important lesson and reminder for all - it’s not just the lancets or needles that have the potential to transmit communicable diseases, but the fingerstick devices as well.
When considering lancets for your monitoring efforts, don’t ignore safety. Sure, it may be tempting to reuse diabetic lancets or even purchase expired lancets from sellers online, but at what risk?
Pip single-use lancets are a relatively new device that resembles a small, travel-sized toothpaste tube. Such devices have a twist off cap and are easy to use by simply pressing the device against the fingertip. The needle is concealed before and after use and doesn’t require preloading or unloading. They have depth settings as do many traditional devices and lancets, and there’s no need to ever touch needles.
Pip single-use lancets come in three sizes based on skin type and are ideal for those with decreased dexterity or for use by children. Single-use disposable lancets are easy to throw away, reducing risk to your family and the general public. These lancets are sterile, painless, and easy to use. Single-use lancets lower your risk of contamination and keep you and your loved ones safe.