OmniPod Failure and Frustration

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Omnipod - When it works, it's great. But when it doesn't...The pod was applied and my PDM’s “start” button was pressed. My body tensed in anticipation of the cannula inserting itself into my skin. It doesn’t cause excruciating pain, but the sensation isn’t exactly pleasant. I waited, listening to the pod tick as the mechanism inside it started to work. I closed my eyes, knowing the pinch would come soon, and waited a bit longer. My grip on the chair tightened. Why was it taking so long? I waited some more. Beep! My PDM chirped at me. I looked down at the screen, which bore the following message:

“Pod is active. ‘basal 1’ has been programmed. Check infusion site and cannula. Is cannula properly inserted?”

I should have hit the “no” option, but my bemusement with the situation prompted me to hit “yes”. I still hadn’t felt the cannula insert itself.

“Ugh! Mom, it happened again…” My mom, who was in the kitchen with me, came over. I explained to her that the cannula failed to insert itself for the second time in a one-month span.

Neither of us had a clue what was going on the first time it happened. I followed the typical pod-change routine like usual and braced myself for the cannula insertion. It didn’t happen, but the “active pod” message appeared. We exchanged confused looks and I began to second guess myself. Did the cannula go in, and I just couldn’t feel it? Did this mean I was becoming invulnerable in the face of the cannula’s prick?

Just as these thoughts were coursing through my mind, my mom and I both heard a loud *click* that made me yelp in surprise. The cannula pierced my skin at last, after an inexplicable lapse of time. Normally, you feel the cannula go in once it has been successfully primed with insulin. This is followed by the “active pod” message on the PDM. This time, though, the PDM message deployed while the cannula failed to until a solid three minutes later.

We didn’t know if it was okay for me to continue using the pod, so we got on the phone with OmniPod to get confirmation. Sure enough, the delay in cannula insertion is a known “needle mechanism failure” that apparently affects pods once in a blue moon. We were told that I would receive a pod to replace the faulty one, and that was pretty much the extent of the conversation.

I hoped the incident would be a one-time thing; obviously, a second occurrence within a month proved me wrong and also sets me on edge. So far, things have been awesome with my OmniPod. When it works, and it usually does, it’s incredibly convenient. But when the unpredictable strikes and a pod fails or the needle mechanism itself fails, pricy pods and insulin are wasted and I become very frustrated.

On the bright side, I removed the second pod blighted by needle mechanism failure before I had to experience the shock of it pricking me unawares. And I can say with certainty that after these two nettlesome (needle-some?) episodes, I’ll be very happy about every successful pod change going forward.

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Comments (7)

  1. Mike R at

    I had the same experience, removed the pod only to have the cannula pop-out on the table in front of me. I was upset that I had wasted a pod but probably best that I removed it.

    There is a current recall of pods and my serial number was not on the list but I still wonder. Don’t put all of your faith in technology. We are still driving the bus.


    As a veteran Pod user I have had my share of failures.
    Insulet is pretty good about their replacements but their policy for replacing lost insulin is “no real policy”. So you deal with it in whatever way you can.

    You can actually remove most of the insulin from the defective pod using the same needle (or similar (if you have already disposed of the syringe).
    Just reverse the procedure and withdraw (tilt the pod if necessary) the insulin.

    I have personally done this a number of times with no ill effects.
    So until Insulet comes up with a real “Lost Insulin Policy” this can help save the defray the cost of the insulin.

  3. Kathy at

    I started wearing my Dexcom on my arm and really like it there. There was a learning curve however in not walking so close to doorways and being extra careful changing clothes. So far, I’ve only lost 2 or 3 in these ways. Is this a problem with the Omnipod as well?

  4. John at

    This has happened to me more than once. The first time I hit “no,” and put on another pod. But subsequently I either waited a couple of minutes or flicked my finger a few times to hit the cannula end of the pod, and the cannula deployed after that. I am not sure whether the flicking did anything or if it was going to deploy anyway! The pods worked fine after the eventual insertion.

  5. Julie at

    Having been on the omnipod for almost 2 weeks I have a question. 2 times the pod has had a high pitch sound come from it out of the blue. It sounds like a smoke detector. Looked for awhile the first time figured out it was my pod not an alarm at school. Anyone else had this happen?

  6. Megan at

    Oh my goodness – this same exact thing has happened to me – three times within a one month period. The pods are not on recall either. I was very frustrated the first time and hit no. The second time, I hit yes to see what would happen and waited it out. Eventually, the insertion happened and worked fine! Why waste a pod and 200 units of insulin if it just needs an extra couple of minutes?! It is very frustrating with how frequently it happens. I’ve also had the very high pitched noise. There are several alerts on the pod which may trigger the squeal. Probably, you’ve run out of insulin and it’s demanding you change the pod immediately! Good luck pumping. 🙂

  7. stephanie at

    I have been using the Omnipod system for about 4 years and have had this and many other problems with the pods. It can be very frustrating because how many backups does a person carry around?! While the company is good about replacing them, they will never admit there’s an issue. On 2 occasions, I had pod after pod fail or fail to adhere to my body and, after hours on the phone with omnipod, I insisted they let me return the failed pods and all others in their shipment in exchange for new pods. They had all been from the same Lot each time and I felt there was an unacknowledged manufacturing defect affecting my supplies. Omnipod agreed to this swap both times.
    To Kathy: your guess is correct about wearing the Omnipod pod on your arms (or legs) – you need to pay close attention to putting on/taking off clothes and – for arms – putting on/taking off seatbelts, shoulder bags, knapsacks. And remember: for the Dexcom they only authorize its use on your abdomen so when you tell them yo’ve worn it anywhere else, I believe they won’t replace it if the adhesive fails (a big problem for me), etc.

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