Infusion confusion in a box
Inside were a whole bunch of materials to promote Infusion Site Awareness Week, which I had never heard of before, and you probably haven’t either, as its brand new. Oh, yes, and it’s this week, all week long. But I gotta tell you, I hesitated to post about it at all.
Well, first off, the Week was created by Accu-Chek/Roche. So it struck me a little like Hallmark creating a Send Your Fiends a Card Week. Roche, after all, makes the Accu-Chek branded Tender, FlexLink, and Rapid-D infusion sets for insulin pumps. So it seems like there is an inherent conflict of interest here.
And I was also turned off by the ultra-slick media packet that came in the box. It has a disc with Word files that allows you to just drop in a few names from your organization to customize a pre-written press release. Most egregious, from an ex-journalist’s point of view, was the section where they have created a quote that you can attribute to someone in your clinic. Now, I understand that the media relations folks at Roche were trying to make it easy for non-media-savvy clinical folks to try and get some attention in the local press, which benefits everyone I suppose, but attributing a quote to someone who didn’t say it crosses the Rubicon for me. It’s too much. Too far from the truth. A lie with good intent is still a lie. I know the world is not black and white, but we have to have some standards, for God’s sake.
I also dislike jumping on band wagons, writing about what everyone else is writing about. Yeah, my hang up, I know. I just like marching to the beat of a different drummer. But sometimes, we do need to function as an organized movement. To flex the muscles of our collective power. So long as we all write about the same subject with our own styles, flare, and viewpoints—so long as we are not regurgitating press releases—then our voices can unite into a chorus.
But beyond all of that, I wasn’t convinced that we need a Infusion Site Awareness Week. I mean, is this really an issue at all? There are some other weeks I’d like to see first.
Like Insurance Won’t Pay for Enough Test Strips Week.
Like Insurance Won’t Pay for Insulin Pens Week.
Like We Need Better Access to Insulin Pumps Week.
Like We Need CGMs Week.
Anyway, here’s what brought me around: as to Roche being Hallmark; I would prefer that industry not create awareness weeks for their own products. But, as we’ve all been talking about recently, the organizations who are supposed to stand up for us, to create awareness weeks, are failing us miserably. Take the ADA and JDRF’s failures to recognize the hard work of the IDF in creating an international awareness DAY for diabetes. Here in the USA our heavy-hitter organizations seem to have abandoned any sense of mission towards the patient population, beyond milking our wallets.
So if our organizations won’t help us, should we turn our back on industry when they reach out to us? When they step in to try and fill the void? Obviously, I wrestled with this a great deal. It’s a delicate symbiotic balance. We are parasite and host to each other. We cannot survive without industry and the industry cannot survive without us. Literally, on both accounts.
So it sounds like we have a lot in common. And so what if industry gains from an awareness week, if it also helps patients? The world, I remind you, is not black and white.
So that’s what brought me around. Well, that, and the tattoos.
See, in addition to the press materials disc, an educational DVD that I have not bothered to watch, and bunch of happy orange buttons in the box, were the tattoos. These are very cool, numbered temporary tattoos in both bold tribal, and colored girly flowered styles. The concept is that after you pull a site, you slap on a temporary tat so you don’t reuse the site. They are big enough to not only protect the actual cannula injection spot, but also the surrounding skin landscape that has been suffering under adhesive for three days.
The tattoos come on a lightly branded card with the Roche and Accu-Chek logos, with instructions for putting on and removing the tattoos on one side, and infusion site rotation basics on the flip side. The info on the card is well-written, neither too medical nor too dumbed down.
I gotta say, this is bar none, the coolest out-of-the-box, fun, funky, different and inspired teaching aid I’ve seen in a long time. All last week I was handing out tattoo sheets to my T-1 pumper patients of all ages; and they loved them.
So I raise my wine glass (hey, it’s almost ten in the morning) in a toast to Roche. I toast them for taking the reins when our non-profits will not. I toast them for their creativity. I toast them for their generosity.
And I forgive them for crossing the line in their press release, and pray they never do so again.
Oh yeah, and happy Infusion Site Awareness Week.