Losing diabetes equipment such as your insulin dose or insulin pen can cause anxiety, particularly if you don’t have available spares.
Have spares available
Before we tackle what to do when you have lost insulin or an insulin pe, it’s worth noting the importance of having spares available of insulin and insulin pens.
We recommend that people using insulin pens have a spare set of insulin pens in case such a loss occurs.
Replacing an insulin pen urgently
If you need replacement insulin or an insulin pen as a matter of urgency, follow these steps:
- Check obvious places for your insulin or insulin pen
- Call your out of hours service for an emergency prescription
- Collect your insulin or insulin pen from a pharmacy – or if out of hours, from a hospital
Check obvious places
This tip may be obvious but in the panic of thinking we’ve lost something important, it can be all too easy to overlook an obvious check.
Take a few minutes to think whether the insulin pen may be recoverable. Was it put aside when travelling or at a restaurant? Have you checked all bags, cases and pockets?
A few extra minutes thinking or checking could save up to a few tense hours of sorting out and collecting an emergency prescription request.
Call your medical centre or out of hours service
If you’ve established that you will need to get a new insulin pen as a matter of urgency, contact your health centre and arrange to get an emergency prescription which will speed up how quickly you can get a new insulin pen and new insulin if needed.
If your medical centre is not open at the time, contact your out of hours service.
Collecting your insulin pen or insulin
If you are given an emergency prescription, you should be able to collect the insulin pen from any pharmacy that has it in stock.
You may need to call in advance to ask whether they have the insulin or insulin pen you require in stock.
If no pharmacies within travelling distance have your insulin or insulin pen in stock, you may need to accept a disposable insulin pen or a different type of insulin until your pharmacy can order and receive the specific insulin or insulin pen you need
If you have to accept a different type of insulin, ask the pharmacist to explain whether you should expect any differences between the insulin you are given and your normal insulin.
You should be prepared to test more regularly than usual if you have to temporarily go onto a different type of insulin.
If the pharmacies are closed, you may need to arrange to collect an insulin pen from your hospital. Check with your out of hours service where they advise you collect the insulin pen from.
Losing insulin or an insulin pen away from home
If you have lost your insulin or insulin pen whilst away from home but in the UK, contact your own health centre or out of hours service and ask for their advice first.
Once you get hold of an emergency prescription, you should be able to take it any pharmacy or, if pharmacies are closed, to a nearby hospital.
Losing insulin or an insulin pen abroad
If your loss of insulin or an insulin pen occurs in a country within the European Economic Area and you have an EHIC card (European Health Insurance Card), the EHIC card should help you to get hold of insulin or an insulin pen either for free or for a reduced charge.
The EHIC website has full details covering usage of the card.
Note that names of insulin can vary from country to country. If your own insulin is not available, you may need to take a different type of insulin. If you need to go onto a different type of insulin, ask whether the insulin will effect you differently to your normal insulin and test more regularly than usual to avoid high or low blood glucose levels occurring
Your own insulin pen may not be available and you may therefore need to take injections by syringe
If you do not have an EHIC card or are in a country outside of the European Economic Area, you may need to buy your own insulin, insulin pen or syringes. If these are relatively expensive, you may wish to claim for the cost of these items on your travel insurance