Is there a serious risk to your insulin pump in your kitchen?

Posted on 23 February 2017

The UK media has reported that certain newer types of kitchen cooking hobs could interfere dangerously with how insulin pumps work.

Image source: Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/restlessglobetrotter/5442467831
Image source: Flickr user restlessglobetrotter

Induction hobs – which are increasingly popular in modern kitchens – work by magnetically inducing heat onto a cooking pan.

Insulin pump manufacturers have stated that items which create a magnetic energy field around their surrounding area are not suitable for use by people using pumps.

Magnetic fields in the immediate vicinity of such equipment can damage the part of the insulin pump’s motor that regulates insulin delivery, possibly resulting in over-delivery and therefore severe hypoglycemia.

Other technology which creates a magnetic field such as MRI machines and X-ray scanners can create similar issues.

Dan Howarth, head of care at Diabetes UK spoke to the Daily Mail about the need for clear warnings in induction hob instruction manuals. He said:

‘We would support very big capital letter warnings – they should not be in the small print at the very back.’ 

JDRF recommends that people with concerns should contact their pump manufacturer.

How do you know if you’ve got an induction hob or a ceramic hob?

Ceramic and induction hobs can look almost exactly the same. Ceramic hobs are quicker to heat up, and use more energy. The entire cooking zone is heated meaning energy can escape from around the sides of the pan and the zones can remain hot for quite a while after you have turned off the heat.

Induction hobs use magnetism to heat the pan, not the hob. The surface of induction hobs does not get hot enough to make spilled food burn and stick as it only heats the pan by detecting its presence.

Safety advice on magnetic fields from CGM producers

“Do not expose your CGM to MRI equipment or other devices that generate strong magnetic fields. If your CGM is inadvertently exposed to a strong magnetic field, discontinue use and contact your physician.”

“Remove the Dexcom G4® PLATINUM Sensor and Transmitter prior to Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Computed Tomography (CT) scan, or diathermy treatment. The Dexcom G4® PLATINUM Sensor and Transmitter have not been tested during MRI or CT scans or with diathermy treatment. The magnetic fields and heat could damage the Sensor and Transmitter so that they might not record or transmit Sensor glucose readings or provide alerts, and you might miss a low or high blood glucose value.”

Safety advice on magnetic fields from insulin pump manufacturers

Animas

“Your Animas® Vibe® Insulin Pump has been designed to operate in the presence of common sources of electrostatic and electromagnetic interference, such as store security systems. However, your pump should not be exposed to very strong electromagnetic fields, such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), RF welders, magnets used to lift automobiles, and some “free-fall” amusement park rides. Very strong magnetic fields, such as in an MRI, can damage the System.

“DO NOT expose the pump to very strong electromagnetic fields. ALWAYS remove the pump before entering an area where there are very strong magnets. If you plan to undergo an MRI, remove your pump and keep it outside the room during the procedure. These types of energy fields can damage the System and lead to over delivery or under delivery of insulin. This could lead to very low (hypoglycemia) or very high (hyperglycemia) BG levels.”