Patch pump technology has been on the verge of breaking through for several years and now it may actually happen. Patch pumps are becoming popular because they avoid the tethered approach of current pumps. Instead of having your pump connected to your body via an infusion set and tubing, the patch pump is worn directly on the body, discreetly attached at the infusion site and wirelessly controlled with a separate device.
Although patch pumps applied directly to the skin are more available, most pumps infuse insulin from a pump reservoir through an infusion set. No single set works well for everyone, so choosing an infusion set can be difficult. The type of set shipped with a new pump is usually one manufactured by the pump company and this set may or may not be the best choice. Fortunately, there are many alternatives to choose from.
Insulin and plastic are not always happy campers together. If insulin crystallizes in plastic tubing, it is usually at the end of the infusion set. This can block insulin delivery and cause high blood sugars. When delivery stops, the pump will sound an occlusion alarm.
Much like a hematoma, a lump can be felt under the skin, usually associated with discomfort, warmth, and high blood sugars. No warning except highs and site discomfort!
Can occur to anyone. More likely in anyone who has ever had a skin infection (infected cut or scrape) in the past.
Usually starts when the site preparation is poor, sterile technique is not used, or the infusion set is not changed as recommended.
Site Bleed #1
Bleeding occasionally occurs near the skin surface and is seen as a red area (the small red spot to the right) at the infusion site. More common with metal needles, but can occur with any infusion set. Requires visual inspection.
Excess sweating can cause even well constructed infusion sets to come loose and fall out.
No warning except highs or a dangling infusion set!
Liquid adhesives like Skin Tac-H (Mason Labs) can be brushed onto the skin to increase adhesion. Skin Prep by Smith and Nephew is another one to try.
Use an odorless, antibacterial antiperspirant on the infusion site. Then swab lightly with an antiseptic pad and place a bioocclusive dressing on the skin.
Insulin leaks from your reservoir or infusion set are usually so small they are quite hard to detect. Your pump will not warn you of leaks. Insulin has a distinctive smell, often describes as creosote, or railroad ties, or Band Aids. Regular blood sugar tests are the only reliable way to detect leaks. No warning except for high blood sugars!