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Giving Yourself an Insulin Injection With the Humulin® N Pen

This information describes how to prepare and give yourself an insulin injection (shot) with the Humulin® N (NPH) pen. Your nurse will review these steps with you and help you practice them.

  • Keep all new, unused insulin pens in the refrigerator. Do not freeze them.
  • Never put the pen you are using back in the refrigerator. Keep it at room temperature, away from heat and sunlight.
  • Discard the Humulin® N pen 14 days after you pierce the rubber stopper. 

Gather Your Materials

Clear off a clean, flat tabletop to work on and gather the following:

  • Humulin® N pen
  • A new single-use pen needle
  • Alcohol swabs
  • A wastebasket
  • A sharps container (a strong, plastic container with a tight cap)

Prepare the Device

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  2. Pull the cover off the pen (see Figure 1). Gently swing the pen up and down at least 20 times until all of the insulin looks cloudy.
  3. Open an alcohol swab and wipe the rubber tip at the top of the pen (see Figure 1).
  1. Remove the tabbed paper from the outer case of a new single-use needle (see Figure 2).
  1. Leave the needle in the case. Gently push the end of the needle into the tip of the pen at the rubber stopper. Screw the needle into the rubber tip until it stops, just like screwing a top onto a jar (see Figure 3).
  1. When the needle is secure, take off the outer needle cap and place it on the tabletop (see Figure 4).
  1. Pull off the inner needle cap (see Figure 4) and throw it in the wastebasket.

Giving the Injection

Follow the steps below to prime the pen, set your dose, and inject the insulin.

Prime the pen

You must prime the pen before you set your dose and inject the insulin. You will do this by giving an “air shot.

  1. Hold the pen so you can see the small magnifying window. Turn the dose selector dial until you see an arrow ➞ in the small window pointing towards the plunger. Pull the plunger out and you will see a 0. Dial 2 units (to the number 2) of insulin on the dose selector dial by turning it clockwise (see Figure 5). You will hear and feel a faint click for each unit as you turn the dial. The push button on the device will also rise. If you dial past 2 units, you can turn the dose selector counter-clockwise to correct it.
  1. Point the needle up. Press the plunger button against the tabletop and push out the 2 units of insulin. The dose selector dial will return to a diamond shape if all 2 units were pushed out.
  2. If necessary, repeat these steps until a drop or stream of insulin appears at the needle tip. If you are using a brand new pen, you may have to prime it up to 3 times to get a drop of insulin at the tip. Then, shake the insulin off the needle tip.

Set your dose

Again, hold the pen so you can see the small magnifying window. Turn the dose selector dial until you see an arrow ➞ in the small window pointing towards the plunger. Pull the plunger out and you will see a 0. Turn the dose selector dial clockwise to set your dose. Set it to the number of insulin units your doctor prescribed, or as instructed on your sliding scale. If you dialed too many units of insulin,turn the dose selector dial counter-clockwise to correct it.

Inject the insulin

You can inject the insulin into your stomach (belly) or the top of your thigh. Inject the insulin using the “5-P” method below.

  1. Gently clean your skin with an alcohol swab at the site selected for injection.
  2. Pinch your skin gently at the site selected for injection.
  3. Pierce the site with the pen.
  4. Push the button on the pen all the way down until the plunger meets the pen.
  5. Pause after injecting and count to 10 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10).
  6. Pull the needle out of the injection site.

After the Injection

  1. Recap the needle on the pen with the large needle cover that you placed on the table.
  2. Unscrew the covered needle from the pen and discard it in your sharps container.
  3. Put the grey cover back on the pen. 
  4. Store it at room temperature, away from heat and direct sunlight.

Discarding Your Sharps Container

When your sharps container is more than half full, reinforce the lid or cap with strong tape to create a more secure seal and prevent leakage. Keep the container separate from trash that will be recycled.

If you live in New York City, you can place the sealed container in with your regular trash for collection. Do not place it with your recyclables. If you live in a different county, check with your local department of health for instructions.

 You can also bring the sealed container to:

  • Your nurse at your next clinic visit 
  • Any nonfederal hospital in New York State