How Do I Use an Insulin Pump?

The Key to Using an Insulin Pump Successfully, Types of Pumps, Advantages and Disadvantages

Written by Grazia Aleppo MD, FACE, FACP

One of the keys to using a pump successfully is to dose insulin appropriately based on your personalized needs. Your diabetes care team plays a big role in educating you so that you feel knowledgeable and comfortable in managing your own insulin pump therapy. Prior to starting insulin pump therapy, your diabetes care team will:

All of these factors will help determine how much insulin you need to take.

Your diabetes team will also teach you how troubleshoot unexplained high blood glucose levels, as well as monitor for insulin pump delivery interruption and avoidance of diabetes ketoacidosis.

Also, take the time to read the user guide that comes with your device. Each device contains important info that pertains to the specific brand and model pump.

Below is an overview of types of pumps, with links to the user guides and other educational tools from pump manufacturers:

Table. User Guides and Educational Materials for Insulin Pumps and Insulin Patch Pumps


Pump Model

User Guide and Educational Materials

Traditional Insulin Pumps

Animas Corporation

  • OneTouch Ping
  • Vibe



  • MiniMed 530G with Enlite, 551/751
  • MiniMed Paradigm 522/722, 515/715, and 512/712
  • Paradigm Revel



  • ACCU-CHECK Spirit and  Spirit Combo

Tandem Diabetes Care

  • t:slim
  • t:flex

Patch Pumps

Insulet Corp

  • Omnipod





How Do I Insert an Infusion Set?

In general, the infusion set of traditional insulin pumps should be changed every two to three days. But make sure to check the insertion site at least twice a day to make sure that there are no signs of infection, and that the tubing isn’t bent or doesn’t have air bubbles in it. If you see signs of infection at the insertion site, such as redness, change the infusion set and call your healthcare provider immediately.

The most common place to insert an infusion set is on the stomach area (abdomen). Other common areas include the buttock, upper leg, or back of the upper arm. Rotate the insertion site by moving at least two inches from the last site to help prevent the likelihood of developing hard lumps or fatty deposits under your skin.

Before changing your infusion set, make sure to wash and dry your hands and clean the area on the skin where you are going to insert the set. Keep the insertion site clean shaven and clean the site with an alcohol swab. Place the new set on a clean surface while you are preparing to place it.

Check with your health care provider and infusion set manufacturer on the exact instructions for changing your set. Manufacturers have online videos and user guides to help you.

Table. User Guides and Educational Materials for Insertion Sets


Insertion Set

User Guide and Educational Materials

Animas Corporation

  • inset
  • inset 30


Insulet Corp

  • Omnipod




  • Medtronic mio
  • Polyfin/Polyfin QR
  • Medtronic Quick-set
  • Medtronic Silhouette
  • Paradigm Sof-set
  • Medtronic Sure-T


  • Rapid-D
  • Tender
  • Ultraflex

Tandem Diabetes Care

  • cleo90
  • comfort
  • contact detach
  • t:set


  • comfort
  • quick-set
  • inset/inset II
  • inset 30
  • contact
  • insuflon


Some infusion sets have an insertion device, which is a push-button tool that inserts the set for you. Some people prefer to insert the infusion set by hand.

Antiseptic solutions and skin-prep wipes are available to purchase online to prepare the skin and help tape stick better.  In addition, stronger adhesive liquids or wipes (such as Mastisol or Skin tac), and tape (such as Hy-Tape, IV3000, Micropore, Polyskin, Tegaderm, and Transpore) are available to keep the infusion set in place. Adhesive removers are also available.

Advantages/Disadvantages of Insulin Pumps

Advantages of insulin pumps include:

Disadvantages of insulin pumps include:


American Association of Diabetes Educators. Continuous Subcutaneous Insulin Infusion (CSII). AADE White Paper. June 6, 2014. Available at:


American Association of Diabetes Educators. Insulin Pump Therapy: Best Practices in Choosing and Using Infusion Devices. Available at: Accessed May 11, 2014.


American Diabetes Association. How Do Insulin Pumps Work? Available at: Accessed May 11, 2015.


American Diabetes Association. Advantages of Using and Insulin Pump. Available at: Accessed May 11, 2015.


American Diabetes Association. Disadvantages of Using and Insulin Pump. Available at: Accessed May 11, 2015.


Joslin Diabetes Center. The Advantages and Disadvantages of an Insulin Pump. Available at: Accessed May 11, 2015.


Kaufman FR, Westfall E, eds. Insulin Pumps and Continuous Glucose Monitoring: A User’s Guide to Effective Diabetes Management. Alexandria, VA: American Diabetes Association; 2012.


University of California, San Francisco. Diabetes Education Online: Type 1 Insulin Pump Therapy. Available at: Accessed May 11, 2015.

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Insulin Pump Overview