Today I came across a huge “no-no” at the pharmacy. The worst part about the whole situation was the fact that I couldn’t get the patient to understand why it was so bad.
A woman came in to fill some lancets, insulin, and syringes. Noticing we had no diabetes medications or supplies in her profile at all, I asked her if she need a script for test strips as well, offering to call the doctor if she did. She said she didn’t because she wasn’t out of them yet. I started inputting the scripts to give her a price on them after her insurance was billed.
It was relatively inexpensive (less than $10 each), considering the price of the insulin without insurance. When I gave her the total, she groaned, telling me money was so tight that even that was a lot. I felt bad. I hate that the economy makes people choose between prescriptions and other necessities. She decided to only get the insulin and syringes. I apologized for the price. Up to this point, this was a normal interaction tinged with sadness. That’s when these words were spoken:
“It’s ok. I’ll just keep using the lancet that’s in the poker right now.”
I warned her this wasn’t a smart idea because she could cause herself an unwanted infection. She shrugged her shoulders and told me she’s been doing it for years. She also told me she reuses her syringes multiple times until the needle tip gets bent. In my head, all I could think was, “ARGH!!” Again, I told her this was bad news bears, emphasizing how important using a clean needle every time was. She laughed, saying, “Honey, it hasn’t killed me yet, and it’s not going to any time soon.” I wanted to bang my head on the wall.
So after that, I filled her prescriptions. When I started ringing her out, I reminded her that she should discard her insulin vial once it’s been opened for 28 days. She laughed again and told me she liked to try to stretch it as far as it can go. I told her that it wouldn’t be as effective, and her blood sugar readings may be more uncontrollable after that point. She smiled, winked, and replied, “I’ll think about.” That’s when she left.
Reflecting on this, I’m still shaking my head. Reusing things that pierce your skin is a HUGE “no-no”. You put yourself at risk for infections. I have heard of many people using lancets over and over, including a family member of mine. This is not unusual, even though it’s bad. But reusing syringes?? That’s just awful and, in my opinion, gross. I shudder thinking about it. It’s a step below sharing needles.
Readers, I know times are tough and money is tight, but please don’t reuse anything that pierces your skin. It’s not worth the potential complications it can cause. Syringes aren’t too expensive out of pocket, and every insurance I’ve ever billed covers them for diabetics. Don’t risk a massive skin infection or worse in the name of penny pinching. It may cost you much, much more.
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