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Open Access

Reuse of disposable syringes and needles in patients with type 2 diabetes

  • Cátia Moreira Guterres1,
  • Guilherme Alcides Flores Soares Rollin1,
  • Rodrigo Antonini Ribeiro1,
  • Gisele Nader Bastos1,
  • Karine Margarites Lima1,
  • Fabiano Barrionuevo1,
  • Luciano Serpa Hammes1,
  • Maria Claudia Schardosim Cotta de Souza1,
  • Tássia Scholante Delabary1,
  • Leni Everson Araújo Leite1,
  • Rubia Natasha Maestri1,
  • Carolina Robinson1,
  • Maicon Falavigna1 and
  • Regina Kuhmmer1Email author
Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome20157(Suppl 1):A189

Published: 11 November 2015


Health ProfessionalHealthcare ProfessionalInsulin TherapyPublic HospitalMonthly Income


Despite the recommendation of manufacturers for single-use of syringes and needles for insulin administration, most patients reuse these devices, a practice supported by national guidelines.


To estimate the frequency of needles and syringes reuse for insulin administration by patients with type 2 DM. In addition, to review patients' practices related to insulin administration.

Materials and methods

Cross-sectional study in an emergency department of a public hospital, in Porto Alegre, Brazil. We assessed sociodemographic and clinical variables related to the management of diabetes; physical examination was performed to evaluate the presence of lipodystrophy, injection site infection and hematomas.


From October 2014 to January 2015, we included 28 participants. Fifteen (54%) were female, average age was 67 (SD 14) yrs. and average BMI was 30 kg/m2 (SD 8). Household monthly income was less than R$ 1.000 (US$ 317) for 68% of the participants. Median time of insulin therapy was 10 yrs. (range 6 to 20 yrs.); 23 (74%) self-administered insulin injections. Twenty-seven (96%) participants receive needles, syringes and insulin from public health system. Reuse of disposable syringes and needles was reported by 75% of participants. The frequency of re-utilization of needles and syringes ranged from two to 21 times; the median re-use frequency was three (IQR 3 to 7.5). Main reasons for syringe and needle changes was pain (54%), guidance of a health professional (14%) and blunt needle (14%). Twenty-two subjects (79%) reported not having received any guidance from a health professional regarding the reuse of needles and syringes. Only 16 (57%) of the participants disinfect with alcohol the injection site; hand-washing before insulin-administration was reported by 26 (93%) subjects. Although not recommended, twelve (43%) disinfect the needle with alcohol for reuse. Needlesticks injures due to syringes and needles reuse were reported by 13 (46%) participants. Lipohypertrophy was present in two (7%), hematomas in five (18%), and one subject had injection site infection at the time of the evaluation.


Reuse rates are high and complications, such as lipohypertrophy and hematomas, are frequent. However, most participants had not received adequate guidance on syringes and needles re-utilization. It is important that healthcare professionals provide adequate guidance for patients with type 2 DM that are likely to reuse syringes and needles.

Authors’ Affiliations

Hospital Moinhos de Vento, Porto Alegre, Brazil


© Guterres et al. 2015

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.