Infection From An Insulin Pump

I have a Facebook friend who had an infection while using her Omnipod pump. It was an unusual and frightening experience fo her, She has a blogsite at, Here is her blog.

1 Like

I hope everyone uses alcohol wipes. It’s more important with pumps than with injections, because it stays in for several days.


We use four alcohol wipes for each Pod change out and five for CGM changes. For pod, two to clean the old site and two to clean the new site.

For CGM to for the same listed above plus one to clean the transmitter.


I try, when possible, to do my pod changes at shower time also, just to clean both the old site and the new one.


We also always put a dot of Neosporin on a spot bandaid and place over the old site.


I do the same with the spot once I remove a site (especially when on the thighs).


Understanding relative and absolute risks is so hard. What I can’t figure out from this story is to what extent that pumper was just extremely unlucky. People routinely get stuck, cut, and scraped. I’ve become quite complacent; I’ve probably broken my skin tens of thousands of times with no precautions and gotten away with it. Now I’m wondering what is the rate of infection from small punctures that leads to infections which require professional medical treatment. I’ve searched for this but I can’t find any quantitative results, so I’m stuck with a combination of ignorance and curiosity.

What is the rate of infection from small puncture wounds? What is the quantitative improvement to this rate when the skin is first wiped with alcohol? Does anyone seen actual facts on this topic, or do we only have common sense, conjecture, and guesses?

1 Like

Germs/bacteria are microscopic. I don’t need a study to know that if you introduce germs into the bloodstream, it can kill you. No scientific studies needed and it’s not conjecture or speculation. Just facts.

When my oldest son had cancer, he had a broviac installed into his neck and chest that required very specific cleaning every day.

He was hospitalized three times for one to two weeks at a time because we didn’t clean it well enough and bacteria made its way into his bloodstream and nearly killed him.

You ever wonder why your entire life, everytime you get a shot or blood drawn, they clean the site with alcohol first?

1 Like

But my question is how often does that happen? I get some combination of thorn punctures, cuts, scrapes, and scratches a few times a day with no apparent harm, because I have an immune system that cleans up the germs. Yes, germs can cause an infection. Yes, it can even become septicemia which is a mortal threat. I decide whether to take protective steps based on the likelihood of serious trouble. I have taken no steps to protect myself from ebola, radioactive fallout, or anthrax. They could be mortal threats, but I suppose they are truly rare, so I do not defend against them.

I don’t have any facts about the likelihood of septicemia from an infusion set infection. So my question was not whether something bad can happen. My question is about the probability. Is it similar to the odds of getting the flu from kissing someone who has the flu? Is it similar to the odds of getting Lyme from a tick bite? Is it similar to the odds that I will die in a car crash? Is it similar to the odds that I will die by lightening strike? By asteroid strike?

Because of the lawyers? That’s a little bit tongue-in-cheek, but I recognize that an infection blamed on non-sterile injection technique could cause real problems for a medical practice. On the other hand, I’ve taken zillions of fingerstick BG measurements and MDI insulin injections without alcohol wipes. I think I’m not unique in this practice; we don’t hear stories about huge numbers of type 1’s who are dying because they reused their lancets or needles.

So I’ll circle back to what I said before. Understanding relative and absolute risks is so hard. What I can’t figure out from the story linked by Richard157 is to what extent that pumper was just extremely unlucky.


I have no idea but I will always advise Liam to err on the side of caution and not risk the potential of death just to be lazy. I really don’t even care about the probability… It’s a known threat so why play Russian roulette with diabetes… ESPECIALLY given the sheer number of times you have to make open holes in your body.

I guess, from my perspective, you’ve just been extremely lucky at this game. If you’ve nearly lost a child due to a blood infection (because of this very reason) things are a bit more real and you don’t even want to talk about “odds” because that’s gambling with a life. Not something we will do and not something we will ever advise Liam to do.

But I do wish you continued good luck if you choose not to sanitize!

@bkh I guess we are old timers for a reason. I, likewise, reuse lancets hundreds of times, one needle per Tresiba pen is what I ration. The only thing I use alcohol for is my Dexcom. I don’t grind the needles in dirt and I do throw it away if it is visibly dirty, but I think we have beaten the odds long ago. YDMV.


We do reuse lancets but maybe we shouldn’t even be doing that given we have over thirty unused boxes and they keep growing, and reusing lancets could, in theory, introduce bacteria into the blood also.

@ClaudnDaye What I was getting at is for the vast majority of the population, it is a non-issue. Granted, it does happen sometimes in people generally with an immune system problem, but it is equally unlikely that an alcohol wipe would help those people. We can’t sterilize an operatory with alcohol wipes because they are not bacteriocidal enough.

I would wager most people in FUD sanitize before and after shooting themselves with a needle but it would be an interesting poll.

You don’t have to have a weakened immune system to be susceptible to infection.

Surgeons should just save all that money on ensuring sterile tools and operating rooms…


I think it’s a bit different when you’re responsible for someone else’s health vs. your own.

I don’t remember the last time I used an alcohol swab for an injection site. It’s likely close to 15-20 years though. I used them at first with a pump, but then I tapered off. I do use alcohol swabs with my sensors because i leave them in for a really long time, and I can acknowledge it’s responsible to use them with pump sites as well. I think length of time is a factor.

My parents always wanted me to use alcohol swabs.


Divide it up by age and length of diabetes. I’d bet that diabetics older than 50 and with diabetes for 35+ years do not formally sanitize when they inject or test. Maybe it’s survival of the fittest ( or stupidest) depending on your point of view.


You guys are probably right. I just can’t imagine ever being ok with Liam choosing not to do it. It just seems so irresponsible to me?

This has to do with medical equipment sterilization but it’s the same principle.

I draw the line at using someone else’s needles or not routinely capping the device. And I really do think a parent is more protective of their child than the child is himself.

And if dog slobber doesn’t kill me them I am certainly not going to let a little bacteria do the job.


Blek…dog slobber. :smiley: