BUTTON ERROR on my Insulin Pump: Will Medtronic Come Through?

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I’m about as frustrated as a person with diabetes can be. Last night, after a very long day that started at 3:57 a.m. when I woke up to run 17 miles in Atlanta and ended after a family meal in Philadelphia, my insulin pump started to flash “BUTTON ERROR” and beep every few minutes. It took a few minutes for me to realize the problem wasn’t going away.

 "Button Error" - Medtronic Insulin Pump 

A few hours earlier, while on a flight from Atlanta to Philly I had noticed the pump was being a little weird, but I didn’t pay much attention. I now imagine I have TSA to thank for this situation (although it could be anything, really), since when I showed them my pump and requested a pat down (oh fun) instead of the detector, I was told to go through the detector. Not wanting to get into trouble, I did as I was told.

So last night I called the Medtronic 1-800 number and spoke to some very helpful people who assured me that all I needed to get a temporary loaner pump was a prescription from a U.S. licensed doctor, and then they would ship me a new pump overnight (a Revel, not a Veo).

Extremely impressed with the great service, I tried to figure out how I could get a prescription at 10 p.m. on a Friday night. Jessica took charge as my frustration and blood sugar levels increased and found two doctors who offered to fax Medtronic the prescription.  After it was sent I called Medtronic again thinking I was done and just needed to wait for a UPS or FedEx truck to pull up at my brother-in-law’s house in Philly. But when I talked to the very nice rep she told me the Global Team had gone home for the day and that I would need to wait until they returned (I assumed that meant Saturday morning).

Understanding there was nothing more to do, I got my “emergency” supplies out of the refrigerator – Lantus and Apidra pens. As I put the needles on I realized I didn’t really know my correct dosing so I guessed, and took 10 units of Lantus and 3 units of Apidra. I was too alert and worried about my blood sugar to go to sleep, so I got up and went downstairs to be social. After a while I decided to check my blood sugar. It was 68. Jessica brought me a peach, which seemed to do the trick.   Jess was worried about me so she stayed up and woke me to check my blood sugar at 2:00 a.m.  It was 84.  We then had a little argument in which she told me to eat something and I refused.

This morning my BG was 133. I was relieved it wasn’t very high and took a small correction bolus.  At 10 a.m. I called Medtronic back to see if my new pump was on its way to me. I spoke to the rep who was, once again, very nice and helpful and politely explained to me that they need to verify some info with the local distributor in Israel before they could ship a pump to me.

“But that may take a few days,” I said, half to myself.

“Yes, it may take a few days” the very nice rep said.

 

To speed things up I tried to call the Israeli distributor. I went to their website and looked for a phone number for the 24/7 emergency hotline they claim to have. I couldn’t find a number so I tried the regular phone number. Being Saturday, no one answered.

 

I sent a text message to the sales rep who sold me the pump and she sent me the number of a different person. I sent another text explaining my situation. I did receive a quick response. “Send me the pump serial number and I’ll do my best to take care of it on Sunday morning.”

 

As you can imagine, I’m pissed off. Why can’t the mighty Medtronic verify its global customers itself? Why does Medtronic allow its distributors to give such crappy service? What kind of a 24/7 hotline has no number listed and no person actually working?

 

If Medtronic is willing to fly a pump out to me overnight, understanding the urgency of the matter, how can they permit such bad service?

 

I don’t know if other companies are better, but at this point I’m definitely open to finding out.

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Comments (7)

  1. Nathan at

    Micheal,
    As soon as I saw your “button error” photo I knew you’d need a new one. I have had this happen twice and Med-t has always shipped me one very quickly. I think it’s really unfortunate that they didn’t just ship it and sort out the details later. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s what they are supposed to do… When you travel you can let them know ahead of time and they’ll give you a back up pump to take with you. Probably worth the effort to avoid stuff like this.

  2. June S. at

    I had a button error on April 21, 2011. Then I had a button error on the replacement pump for that one, on April 21, 2012! The customer support person said “Wow! I’d mark April 21, 2013 on your calendar. Best not to go anywhere on that date!” They were able to ship my pump quickly, but not overnight (since it died on a Saturday this year, and UPS doesn’t ship on Sundays here in NJ.) Button Errors really stink, and my theory is that mine happened because I use my buttons so much, with my CGMS going 24/7, 365 days a year!

  3. DeeDee Y at

    I just had the same issue with my pump (a year old revel). My first pump did the same thing as well. The rep at Medtronic said something about the buttons getting damp from sweat and sticking. But, the good news is that when I got my new pump, I kept my olderreplacement pump so that I had a spare to fall back upon. 

  4. mike at

    My pump is showing same thing(Button Error) because a button somehow was pressed for longer than 3 minutes. So it sounds like the pump is RUINED because of that! It doesn’t make sense to keep it if I need a NEW one sent especially if it isn’t going to work because a button was accidently pressed for a long period of time. Seems like the battery would go first! Apparently there is no way to fix!

  5. Lori Hardison at

    My pump is showing same thing (Button Error). Now I was at work and the pump was in it’s case, so how did a button get pressed for longer than 3 minutes. I have been researching and found a comment on tru diabetes that it is when moisture gets under the case. 

    I was lucky enough to have called Medtronic the day before to have a new one shipped due to a manufacturer defect. So for only a day I had to depend on the good ole method shots.   

  6. david behr at

    I experienced a ‘button error’ a few days ago. I wasn’t involved in any kind of activity at all, just on the computer and the pump gave 5 beeps, which usually means that there is no delivery, which occasionally can occur. i

  7. david behr at

    When I saw it was a ‘button error’ I simply restarted the pump and the situation immediately cleared up and I havent had any further occurence. Guess I am just lucky, but if it ever happens again, I will call Medtronics. I have kept some older pumps as back-up so i am not too worried.

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