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June 1, 1999

Blood Tests and Insulin Injections

Question from Alabama, USA:

My 65 year old mom has had diabetes for about 5 or 7 years. She says you can reuse a single-use needle over and over (she is on a very limited income). I was just diagnosed with diabetes (less than 3 months ago) and want to know what risks she is taking and how do you care for the needle if you really have to reuse it? As far as I know she just recaps it and uses it over and over until it gets dull (she says about a week). She takes both R and N. I am not having to be "that" money conscious at this time but I may have to in the future and want to protect my health as much as possible.

Answer:

Speak to your own diabetes care provider for individual advice, but in general it is okay to reuse needles as long as you don’t have other health problems that would make it unsafe. Also, don’t reuse a needle if it has been bent or contaminated (for example, dropped on the ground, etc). If more than one person has diabetes in a home, I would not reuse needles or lancets due to the risk of getting them mixed up.

LM
Additional comments from The Editor:

We recently ran a poll on reusing syringes and lancets. Many people reported reusing syringes, and more reported reusing lancets.

JSH