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Skills Pumps

Diabetes Self-Care: What Does My Child Need to Know???

Part 5: Managing Insulin Pumps(applicable to Insulin Pump users only)girl with insulin pump

For background information for this article, see:
Part 1: Introduction to Diabetes Self-Care Task Analysis
Part 2: Overview of Skills


Task Analysis for Some Common Diabetes Self-Care Tasks:

This breakdown is an outline of skills (related to managing insulin pumps) to consider when handing diabetes care over to your child. It is only a suggested starting point;  we recommend you consult your child’s diabetes health care team and adapt them for your family’s own individual situation, adding, deleting and/or further breaking down the steps as needed, to create a diabetes self-care task analysis that is individualized for you and your child or teen.

Tasks and Steps:

1. Inserting Infusion Sets:

a. Gathers necessary supplies.

b. Applies EMLA® cream or other topical anaesthetic, if applicable.

i. Applies appropriate amount of cream.

ii. Covers with Tegaderm®, IV3000®, or other barrier film.

iii. Waits the indicated time for product to “numb” area.

iv. After waiting period, removes the cover.

v. Wipes away excess cream.

c. Selects an infusion site (good absorption, not overused).

d. Cleanses/sterilizes the intended site.

e. Uses any preparatory products (SkinTac®, SkinPrep®, etc), as applicable.

f. Inserts infusion set (according to manufacturer instructions).*
(*These steps f, g and h may come in a different order, depending upon type of infusion set used - see manufacturer's instructions.)  


g. Primes tubing just prior to connection.*

h. Connects infusion set to the tubing/pump.*

i. Fills cannula, if applicable. (i.e. For many FLEXIBLE cannula infusion sets, the cannula is filled after insertion – see manufacturer’s instructions.)
(NOTE: FILL CANNULA STEP DOES NOT APPLY TO FIXED (metal) CANNULA INFUSION SETS.)

j. Removes old infusion set.

k. Safely disposes of old infusion set (in a sharps container), as well as other refuse.

l. Effectively rotates sites.

m. Recognizes the signs and symptoms of a possible site infection, and alerts caregiver.


2. Replacing Pump Cartridges/Reservoirs and Batteries
(Steps vary according to pump manufacturer and model – please consult manufacturer instructions.)


3. Responding to Insulin Pump Error Messages:

a. Notices pump alarms and warnings sounds when they occur.

b. Reads the alarm or warning from the pump screen.

c. Takes appropriate steps to resolve the situation (restores prime, replaces battery, replaces low cartridge, etc).


What If These Steps Are Too Big?

If a step seems unmanageable for your child or teen, or if you have been trying to teach a given step without success, consider ways to break that skill down into smaller component steps, and then teach one of those sub-steps at a time.


For additional task analyses, see:
Part 3: Blood Glucose Monitoring and Treatment
Part 4: Insulin
Part 6: Carbs and Exercise



Any questions? Comments? Feel free to Contact Us.


The above information was reviewed for content accuracy by clinical staff of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Diabetes Clinic.

This material has been developed from sources that we believe are accurate, however, as the field of medicine (in particular as it applies to diabetes) is rapidly evolving, the information should not be relied upon, as it is designed for informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of medical advice, instruction and/or treatment. If you have specific questions, please consult your doctor or appropriate health care professional.


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