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General Questions

Are insulin pumps expensive?


The cost of an insulin pump may vary depending on your health coverage, the province in which you live and your eligibility for a variety of government sponsored programs.


For help in determining your coverage, call our Accu-Chek® Pump Support Department toll-free at 1-800-688-4578.


  • Besides a pump and insulin, what other supplies does insulin pump therapy require?

You'll need infusion sets, cartridges for the insulin, adapters (which connect the cartridge to the infusion set), batteries, battery covers, and blood glucose monitoring supplies.


  • Do I have to have surgery?

No. Insulin pumps are external devices that do not require any surgery or invasive procedures and can be disconnected as needed.


  • Do you still use a needle with the infusion set and if so, how is it worn?

An insulin pump is attached to you with an infusion set. Depending on the design, an infusion set may have a needle, or a soft Teflon® cannula. A cannula is inserted with an introducer needle that is removed immediately after insertion. A needle or cannula may be placed at an angle, or may be put straight into your skin, depending on the design of the infusion set. An infusion set is generally changed every 2-3 days.


You may insert the infusion set in your abdomen, thigh, arm, leg, or most anywhere you can "pinch an inch." However, most insulin pump users rotate sites on their abdomen, as this area tends to have the best absorption. Modern infusion sets are comfortable and easy to use. There is a style for virtually every insulin pump user. To learn more about Accu-Chek infusion sets, please visit the Infusion Sets area of our website.


  • Does an insulin pump work better than injections?

An insulin pump is far superior to the more conventional practice of daily injections for many reasons, the greatest being that its use provides for a much greater ability to manage and control diabetes. The insulin pump is a delivery system that gives you a continuous flow of insulin. This minimizes the peaks and valleys of insulin action you may experience with multiple injections. The pump also gives you a precise dose of insulin, based on your current needs – even as those needs change.


However, despite the advantages of using an insulin pump, total success will still depend on you and how well you take care of yourself. Good nutrition and exercise habits, testing blood glucose frequently, and making decisions about how much insulin to take for your food are all important aspects of optimizing your health. When in the hands of a person committed to better health, supported by an experienced healthcare team, insulin pump therapy can make managing your diabetes easier and far more flexible than ever before.


  • Does it hurt to put in and wear an infusion set?

Not really. There may be an occasional "pinch" when inserting the set, but many people find inserting infusion sets more comfortable than giving injections - plus the infusion set only needs to be changed every 2 or 3 days.


  • How do I get in touch with other insulin pump users?

There are several ways to find other insulin pump users. Ask your Roche Diabetes Solutions representative or your healthcare team about pump clubs or users you may speak with of which they may be aware. The Internet is also a valuable resource for contacting pump users.


  • How long does it take to get started on an insulin pump?

There are three things that determine how long it takes:


  1. How well you understand diabetes care;
  2. How well you understand insulin pump therapy; and,
  3. How well you operate the pump. Understanding diabetes care involves the basic principles of nutrition, exercise and medicine. Experienced diabetes patients already know these principles.

People new to diabetes can attend an education program in their community (your healthcare team can provide you information on local sessions). Understanding insulin pump therapy involves a training session with a diabetes educator and a personalized therapy plan. Learning to operate the pump takes training and practice.


Roche Health Solutions Inc. offers a comprehensive training program utilizing an online or traditional workbook method with an assigned, certified trainer. The training consists of individual learning modules that can be completed in your own time and place, at your own pace. In addition, we offer insulin pump manuals, as well as books written for insulin pump users.


  • How long have insulin pumps been available?

Insulin pumps have been available in the U.S. since the late 1970s. Today's insulin pumps, however, are much more advanced than early models. Modern pumps use the latest microprocessor technology to regulate insulin delivery and provide safety checks. The Accu-Chek Spirit Combo insulin pump performs over 9 million safety checks each day!


  • How much do supplies cost?

Costs vary depending on your coverage. For more information on your specific coverage, contact a Accu-Chek Pump Sales Coordinator. Click here to contact us.


  • How safe are insulin pumps?

Insulin pumps are proven to be safe. They have been used by hundreds of thousands of people around the world for years. Today's technology has only served to make them even better. The Accu-Chek Spirit Combo insulin pump performs over 9 million safety checks each day!


  • If I use an insulin pump will I automatically have good control of my blood glucose level?

Good control (or "tight" control, as you'll hear many people say) requires a balanced approach. Insulin pumps certainly will help you control your blood glucose level, but eating properly, monitoring your blood glucose and exercising regularly are equally important. The insulin pump doesn't take care of your diabetes, you do.


  • What are the advantages of an insulin pump?

The greatest advantage of an insulin pump is that it can help you better manage your blood glucose level. In addition, it can provide you with lifestyle flexibility - you can travel, exercise, work or eat without worrying about injections and when the insulin will take affect. Health advantages may include lowering of an A1C level, fewer low blood glucose (hypoglycemic) reactions, the reduced likelihood of diabetes-related complications (heart and kidney disease, vision loss and nerve damage), and improved physical and psychological well-being.


  • What is a basal rate?

The basal rate is the continuous pre-programmed rate the pump delivers throughout the day. Usually 40-50% of the total daily dose of insulin is given as the basal rate. Although rarely changed, you may have several different basal rates throughout a 24-hour period. These rates are based on patterns of activity, hormonal changes, and other factors that affect your insulin needs throughout the day.


  • What is a bolus?

Bolus refers to the larger dose of insulin that you program to compensate for food you eat. This is usually referred to as a pre-meal bolus dose and is given around the time of a meal or snack.


  • What is a correction bolus?

Correction bolus, also referred to as a "high glucose level bolus" or "supplemental bolus dose," is an added amount of insulin that is needed when blood glucose levels are above a specific, individualized target range. This supplemental insulin can be added to the meal bolus, or given separately as an additional bolus at times not related to meals.


  • What is an insulin pump?

An insulin pump is designed to deliver insulin continuously under the surface of the skin (referred to as continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion, or CSII), and to help keep blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible. A landmark scientific study shows that maintaining blood glucose levels at or near normal levels greatly decreases the likelihood of complications from diabetes*.


* Diabetes Control and Complications Trial Research Group. The effect of intensive treatment of diabetes on the development and progression of long-term complications in insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. New Engl J Med. 1993;329:977-986.


  • What is it like wearing a pump 24 hours a day?

Because today's insulin pumps are about the size of a personal pager and weigh only a few ounces, many insulin pump users forget they're wearing an insulin pump. During the day, you can clip it to your pant or skirt waistband or put it in a pocket. Some women even wear the pump in their bra. You have choices at night, too. Some people clip the pump to their pajamas, while others put it in a pocket or under their pillow. Many people simply lay the pump next to them.


  • What type of insulin is used with a pump?

Your healthcare professional will prescribe the insulin that is appropriate for you. Some important points to remember about insulin pumps and insulin include:


  • Insulin pumps use only fast-acting insulin.
  • People using long-acting insulin will no longer need it after they begin using insulin pumps. Why? An insulin pump delivers a continuous supply of fast-acting insulin.
  • Fast-acting insulin has more predictable absorption than intermediate or long-acting insulin, so your blood glucose levels can be better controlled.
  • Where can I wear my insulin pump so people won't see it?

There are many accessories that let you keep the pump concealed if you choose. For women, a popular option is the bra pouch. It clips on the side of the bra and the pump hangs under the arm. This insulin pump pouch works well for formal dresses, sundresses and tank tops. The "Thigh Thing" is a Lycra® case that has a small pocket for the pump and a clip to hold it in place, like a garter belt. Some women just put the pump in a baby sock and tuck it into the front or side of the bra, or pin it under their skirt.


If you have invented a novel way of wearing your pump, please let us know. Pump wearers like you are the brainpower behind many of the insulin pump cases we carry today.

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