The RCN has released information to advise nurses on pre-loading insulin syringes for people who are unable to manage their diabetic condition.
The guidance is an update on a previous document on the subject published by the RCN in 2006. It highlights the fact that some people with diabetes are unable to manage their condition because of visual impairment or poor manual dexterity.
The guidance details a number of requirements for patients, nurses and storage conditions that must be met if pre-loaded insulin is to be used. Patients must accept full responsibility for the management of their syringes, while nurses must always include a senior diabetes nurse in each patient case, and never delegate the job to a healthcare assistant.
It also highlights the importance of patient education in relation to self-management of diabetes with pre-loaded insulin. The guidance states that community nurses must regularly assess the patients understanding of their insulin regime, to avoid problems such as irregular injection and wastage of the insulin.
Libby Dowling, clinical advisor at Diabetes UK said: 'A small but significant number of people need to use pre-loaded syringes to help manage their diabetes. In these cases, it is vital that care is delivered safely and nurses are aware of the legal position surrounding this practice. We therefore welcome guidance that will help people with diabetes retain as much independence as possible in managing their condition, while also ensuring they receive the highest level of care available'.
The RCN estimates that the number of people who require pre-loaded insulin is likely to rise, as five million people are expected to be affected by diabetes by 2025.
Peter Carter, the RCN's chief executive, said: 'The NHS's ability to manage diabetes will be crucial over the coming years, and specialist staff and those working in the community will be in a key position to refine best practice and give care of the highest quality.'