I had known from previous experience that when dealing with a medical device company, if you have anything out of the ordinary happen, that you need to call the situation in. Of course, though, I’ve always taken this to be the “big” things, not necessarily just something that you don’t think to be a big deal. I’ve learned now, though, that thinking is wrong.
I have been patiently trying to learn and use the Medtronic Enlite sensors along with their 530G pump. It’s been hit and miss over the past three months, but overall it wasn’t anything like the experiences I had with their old glucose sensor system. But it did seem that for every one good sensor I had, I would have 2 or 3 that I could not get to work for 6 days, let alone 3. I could insert correctly, calibrate right, you name it. I just could not get them to work. I usually only called in the ones I only got a few days out of and not the full 6 because I figured, hey, if I get 5, that’s close enough. Most all of mine were kinked anyway, so if I got 5 days out of a somewhat kinked / somewhat straight sensor, I was okay with that.
With the last few, I noticed something odd. When I pulled the needle out by the guard as instructed, the needle would be leaning more to the side, and it did not automatically retract into the guard as it was supposed to. I just squeezed the tips on the side and it would retract. Silly me didn’t think anything of it and just kept going on using them. But with the last sensor I had, I only was wearing it for 4 or 5 days, and had to pull it out because readings were everywhere, I had constant rate alarms – it was apparent the sensor was bent due to the wackiness of the sensor values my pump was receiving. I Instagrammed / Tweeted a picture of the bent sensor, and Medtronic took notice and had someone give me a call. It wasn’t until I brought up the thing with the needle not retracting that everything seemed normal to the representative I was speaking with. We went over that part several times and I could hear her typing like mad on the other end. I knew something was up. Then she said,
“Well, that’s a new issue we haven’t encountered yet.”
That right there is the very reason we need to call anything that may not be working quite right or just seems out of the ordinary. I never would have thought that the needle guard thing would be a big deal, but it is. They need to know what issues we’re having so they can document them, even if its’ a common thing, that way they can tweak whatever might be causing a common issue (like sensors bending, or tape allergies). Or it may even be an issue they haven’t even encountered yet at all, like this needle thing. She replaced two boxes out of my shipment just in case there was an issue with the lot they came from as well as replaced my sensor Serter device since there may an issue with it somehow making the sensors kink.
Moral of the story? Call it in. Just because it may not seem to be a big deal, it could be. The companies are working to make life with diabetes easier to live, but they need to know what problems to solve to make their product better.