This guidance updates and replaces NICE technology appraisal 57 (published in February 2003).

Units for reporting HbA1c have changed from % to mmol/mol since this guidance was published. The NICE Pathway on diabetes has been changed to reflect this.

The review and re-appraisal of the use of continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion for the treatment of diabetes mellitus has resulted in a change in the guidance. Specifically there has been a change to the recommendation on the use of continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion in children younger than 12 years with type 1 diabetes mellitus.

Continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion or ‘insulin pump' therapy is recommended as a possible treatment for adults and children 12 years and over with type 1 diabetes mellitus if:

  • attempts to reach target haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels with multiple daily injections result in the person having ‘disabling hypoglycaemia', or
  • HbA1c levels have remained high (8.5% or above) with multiple daily injections (including using long-acting insulin analogues if appropriate) despite the person and/or their carer carefully trying to manage their diabetes.

Insulin pump therapy is recommended as a possible treatment for children under 12 years with type 1 diabetes mellitus if treatment with multiple daily injections is not practical or is not considered appropriate. Children who use insulin pump therapy should have a trial of multiple daily injections when they are between the age of 12 and 18 years.

‘Disabling hypoglycaemia' is when hypoglycaemic episodes occur frequently or without warning so that the person is constantly anxious about another episode occurring, which has a negative impact on their quality of life.

Insulin pump therapy should only be started by a trained specialist team. This team should include a doctor who specialises in insulin pump therapy, a diabetes nurse and a dietitian (someone who can give specialist advice on diet). This team should provide structured education programmes and advice on diet, lifestyle and exercise that is suitable for people using insulin pumps.

Insulin pump therapy should only be continued in adults and children 12 years and over if there has been a sustained improvement in the control of their blood glucose levels. This should be shown by a decrease in the person's HbA1c levels or by the person having fewer hypoglycaemic episodes. Such goals should be set by the doctor through discussion with the person or their carer.

Insulin pump therapy is not recommended for people with type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Your responsibility

The recommendations in this guidance represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, health professionals are expected to take this guidance fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients. The application of the recommendations in this guidance is at the discretion of health professionals and their individual patients and do not override the responsibility of healthcare professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual patient, in consultation with the patient and/or their carer or guardian.

Commissioners and/or providers have a responsibility to provide the funding required to enable the guidance to be applied when individual health professionals and their patients wish to use it, in accordance with the NHS Constitution. They should do so in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities.

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