Answered 8/10/2015 by Samuel Grossman, BS Pharm, Pharm.D, CDE
An insulin pump is quite different from an insulin pen. The insulin pump provides a constant basal dose of insulin over 24 hours compared to an insulin pen that has to be manually injected once or twice daily. In addition, before you eat, just like the pre-meal insulin dose, you have to inject or bolus with insulin. The difference is that you don’t have to find a hiding place to inject insulin. With some pumps you can remotely activate the bolus dose. The pump allows you to get better glycemic control because you can change the pre-meal insulin bolus based not only on the blood sugar before the meal but also the amount of carbohydrates in the food. On the other hand, if your pump has tubing, you have to change the tubing every couple of days and always monitor the insulin pump. The insulin in the pump has to be monitored and refilled and you have to remember to change your batteries. Because of the risk for low or high blood sugar, it is recommended to sample fingersticks 3 or 4 times daily compared with less requirements for fingersticks from an individual using an insulin pen.