Insulin Pump Horror!

Last night was freightening for me.  I have been on the Minimed 512 insulin pump almost 6 years and it has changed my life.  Last night before going to bed I was changing my infusion sight.  I primed my pump as ususal.  And then inserted the infusion.  I went to prime the canula and did not notice on the pump screen that it was still in the primeing mode for before it was inserted.  I did what I was supposed to do, but something malfunctioned and all the pump would do was the prime and rewind mode.  Somehow I have myself around 70 units of Humalog all at once.  That was so much more than I could consume carbohydrates for.  I ended up in the emergency room with a glucose IV.  (Happy Mothers day, huh?) 

Medtronics is sending me a replacement loaner pump which I should receive tomorrow morning.  They were pretty good about that, since my pump was out of warrantee.  They tried to help me by having me drink a lot of sugar water.  That didn't work.  It made me sick to my stomach.  

I thought I would share, wondering if anyone else has experience such horror?  I am still pretty emotional about it.

Yikes!  That's awful.  I'm glad you are okay.  Did you try using glucagon?  Warrantee or not, that should never have happened. If I were you, I'd get Medtronic to give you a new pump for free and not just a 'loaner.'

I'm sorry that happened, how scary.  Hopefully this won't happen again ever.  What you did was exactly what you were suppose to do. You went to the ER.

This is also the opportunity to use an Glucagon kit to buy you some time. Expired or not, it would work.  The nice thing about Humalog is it has a half life of 2-3 hrs.

Hopefully, Minimed gave you tips on how to get through the next 24 hrs without a pump. My endo gave me a Emergency pump kit- how much Lantus I need to take if my pump ever fails. With my basal rate settings and carb ratio's, correction factors.  So my stress level of my blood sugars going off the chart whould be minimized and I don't get sicker.  Ask  your endo or PCP for a prescription for Lantus or Levemir for those just in case days or vacation days.

Best of Luck


So Happy You're OK!!!!!!!! Scary huh???

It was a freightening experience.  I am on the rebound today.  I have to check my glucose and give myself a shot every three hours as I have no basal insulin.  I am ticked at my doctors office as they didn't offer to give me a prescription for Lantus to cover me.  My glucose has been as high as 300 mg/dl and as low as 110 since getting home from emergency. 

I needed a new pump anyways and was in the process of getting a new one.  When I called Medtronic's shortly after the injection of around 70 units of insulin the rep there was tremendous.  She stayed on the phone with me for about an hour and one half and was running a timer for me making me check my glucose every 15 minutes.  She finally let me go when my glucose went up after a 15 minute period (It subsequently went down again).  But she did call back when the paramedic's were at my house and my son talked with her.  He told her that they were there and she said something like "thank God". 

Interestingly, she wanted me to mail my malfunctioning pump back to minimed.  I don't know why.  She is sending a pre-paid package for it.  She seemed to know exactly what happened when I phoned.  Possibly this isn't the first time this has happened.  I will never insert my infusion set before I read the pump screen ever again!!!  I just did it out of habit without thinking. 

I'm sorry to hear you had to experience this, Dan.  Animas sent out a letter and email to their customers a few months back about this very topic - you're certainly not the first to do it!  Hope you get back to "normal' soon.  Best wishes.

9 am Monday morning replacement pump arrived.  That is great customer service.  At least that was a great experience!!!!  I called them Saturday night at 11:30 pm!

Sorry to hear your story, Dan.  I can see how easy it would be to have that happen.  I'm usually trying to change my site in a hurry and get in auto mode!!!.  I had a malfunction with my minimed a couple of years ago where the pump screen locked and nothing was happening..not even my basal.  when I called the company the operator told me to take the battery out for 15 mins.  When that didn't work she said the battery may need to be out for up to 1-2 hours.  Of course I was at work and had no needles or insulin available to me.  The pump did end up working again after 5-6 hours.    Minimed acted fast and I had another  temporary pump within 24 hours.    My warranty  was up and I was able to upgrade.    The pump is great when it's working,  but very scary when it malfunctions!

It happen before but I only gave myself about 12 units and was able to stop myself from going too low. Sorry you had to go to the hospitol. Hope you feel better.

Thank you for all the good sentiments.  I think I am slowly coming out of the shock of it all.  I still don't know how 70 units could go into me so quickly.  It probably was a matter of 3 seconds.  Something really went wrong.  And I found out, with that much insulin, even after 4 hours it was working very hard at lowering my glucose.  At 3 1/2 hours they gave me a whole syringe of glucose.  It was awful big, but I don't know how much because my glucose was at 50 mg/dl.  An hour after that it had climbed up to 130, more than four hours after injection.  Finally after that my glucose started climbing and they sent me home. 

Glade your are all right. Few things to maybe consider for future site changes.

1.) I never change at night. Sometimes a site will not take for me so I always change in the morning until about dinner time, never after. If the resivoir gets low I will fill it up and change the site in the morning. It will prevent lows/highs overnight while you are asleep. 

2.) I insert the new infusion set prior to doing the rewind, prime, and fixed prime. This allows me to give the pump my full undivided attention. Usually I will prefill the reservoir and have it all set ready to go, then insert the new set, then prime the pump.

Wow, what a scary experience!

I had a Minimed a couple of years ago that had a similiar problem. The sensor couldn't recognize when it reached the bottom of the insulin cartridge. It would just keep priming. If I stopped it, I couldn't do anything else except rewind and prime again. Thankfully I discovered all of this before I reconnected, so I didn't have any trouble with taking too much insulin. I called the customer service and they sent me out a new pump right away and had me send my old one back to them. It was several years old and I was overdue for a new pump anyways. My endo had prescribed me Lantus, and the Minimed hotline people helped me decide how much to take, since I was calling them around 9-10 pm. This sounds like the same thing that happened to your pump. I think I had another pump the following afternoon.

While the malfunction was annoying, I was totally impressed with the company and quickly they responded and offered assistance. Since my pump was so old, I got over my irritation pretty quickly, cuz hey, stuff wears out, and the company really did a great job making sure I was ok.

Glad you are ok!

Megan519, that is exactly what happened to me.  Yes my pump was out of warranty too.  It is just over 5 1/2 years old.  I have friends tell me to sue Medtronics, but I don't see the point.  Yes it was horror but I was somewhat responsible since I was using the old pump and I quickly put the darn thing on without noticing that it was malfunctioning.  I sure Medtronics shares some responsibility but is it worth it?  I don't think so.  They were very concerned and very helpful on the phone even calling me back to follow up.  They want my broken pump too.  I haven't sent it back yet. 

The reason why Minimed wants your broken insulin pump back is to take it apart to learn what happend to it.  It helps them improve future technology.  Over time with any electronic device, something is going to eventually brake.   My ipod got stuck over the weekend- it's 5 yrs old. I was able to get it going again.

Please send your pump back to them to improve the future insulin pump your going to get in the next couple of years.  They are working on the next generation of pump, hopefully to see it in the next 1-2 yrs.


I have had similar but not as serious I have a minimed the 722  I had been running around 34-35  and I had the same errror when I was doing a site change .I was chaning it and it wouldnt let me do anything but prime and it kept freezing there but after about a hour of fighting with the darn thing the screen went blank and said AA22 and than it changed to AA33 turns out the motar failed and my pump died minimed sent me a loner and I was still on warrenty so I got a new pump but it turned out my high blood sugars were because my pump wasent acutally delivering insulin . So I just had to drink tons of water and use my needles :( . By the way hope your Feeling Better :) happy pumping

One thing you can't deny, we who have t-1 diabetes are resilient people.  Other than the shock of the unfortuate event, I am fine and everything is back to normal.  I even rode my bicycle 12 miles today and went low afterward as usual.  Glucose tabs worked fine this time.  Thanks for all the input.  Yes Medtronic really didn't do anything wrong.  There was no negligance by them, the darn pump just broke.  It was 5 1/2 years old and now I know why they want you to get one every four years.  Unfortunately, this is the way I learn.  God Bless!


Dan, I'm so sorry to hear about your experience but I'm happy that your ok and doing better. I had problems with my pervious pump(MiniMed 712) both under warntee and not under warnetee and the company has always been excellent with their customer service and the advice they give. It really does amaze me all the time. In my opionion your friends telling you to sue Medtronic is really pointless as you have stated, your pump was a little bit older and things can happen with aging technology. I don't think it is worth it and with them calling you back and staying on the phone with you as long as they did shows me that they really wanted to help you as much as they could over the phone as well as make sure that you were looked after by medical assistance when you needed it the most. But it's only my opionion.

"If it's true that we are what we eat, then I am fast, easy and cheap" -- Barbara Johnson

Hey Dan

Personally, I felt no need to be angry at Minimed. They really did all they could to help me, and my pump was definitely old. Electronic stuff wears out/breaks all the time. A lot of people replace their computers after 3-4 years, cell phones barely last more than 2 years, cameras and Ipods, if you can make them last 5 years then you have gotten your moneys worth. And lets not even talk about fax machines/printers. The pump is still a machine and requires maintenance, I don't know why anyone would be completely shocked when something goes a little funky after years of constant use.

Glad everything worked out for you :)

I started using a Medtronic pump in 2002.  It worked great for the first 31/2 years(although I did have to replace one because of a software problem.)  Then I also started having problems with priming, similar to what you experienced.  Since my pump when close to the end of the warranty period I considered upgrading to a newer version.  But working with Medtronic and sharing with them the problems led me to changing pumps to Animas.  At the time Medtronic Customer service wasn't very helpful and I even I had an agent tell me to switch because of the changes in customer service.  

Medtronic may have upgraded their customer service since then(2007) but it is worth checking out other manufacturers. 

I am glad you survived this experience.