Saw a link to this story on the Drudge Report. Given the number of views he gets every day, this will bring a little bit of awareness to many who don't know what an insulin pump is.
Anybody else with a pump have problems with the TSA? Let's hear about it and how you handled it.
I've never had a problem in 5 years of pumping going through security. I have been asked to take it off but I refused calling it an "implanted medical device". I think I scared the screener. She swabbed it and off I went. I was pumping before the new scanners so always just wore it through the metal detector and had no problems. I understand you are not supposed to wear the pump through the full body scanner. I've never minded the pat down as I've always found them quite professional.
My Omnipod and Dexcom sensor does not trigger the metal detector. However at more and more places they are doing the full body scan and it will show up....then I am asked to step aside to a private screening area where they ask me to touch the pump with both hands. They swab my hands for explosives and then let me go. It is a pain in the you-know-what.
Coming back from out of the country I had the hand-swab test and it showed up positive! That false positive triggered every single item in my carry-ons and all insided surfaces of my bags being swabbed as well as the pat-down and swab for me. Yes, pain in the you-know-what. I had a pretty good attitude about it at first (I'm all for being safe), but it took a long time and was a bit embarrassing. I'd passed security in England and had just come off a long flight (after lots of delays). Then I had had to fumble around in public restroom to change my infusion set and reservoir, with some difficulty. It was only a short flight in the U.S. to get home. At least in England I could imagine they would have at least said, "We're sorry for your inconvenience." Even if they didn't mean it, it would have been nice. I guess it could have been a lot worse...
I once tested positive on the hand-swab. I read somewhere that certain hand lotions can skew the swab test, so I am always careful to not use hand lotion before the security check. They did go through all of my stuff but at least they were kind and courteous.
I had just washed my hands in their restroom and used alcohol swabs on my fingers before that, to change my inf. set. All I could think of was their soap, something in the alcohol swab, or maybe some insulin on my hands. The woman who did my pat-down seemed irritated with the woman who did the explosives swab test. She'd had so many positives it was getting irritating. Hmm. Not much she could have done wrong. Maybe an issue with the swab reading/sensing machine? Seems like common sense to me to get it checked for accuracy.
I saw this story too on a local news channel's website (http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/31025318/detail.html), but can't help wonder how long the individual has been pumping and thus the likelihood they should have been aware that the pump might sustain damage? I admit that, not being a pumper, I lack the information and education necessary to make a judgment -- but I thought pumps could be disconnected temporarily with little consequence?
The tubed type pumps can be disconnected from the body temporarily. That is not the problem. The problem is what the TSA want to do with it. As an electrical engineer, I can tell you there is a real possibility that X-rays can disrupt the microprocessor in the pump or erase its memory and programming. The chances that this will happen depend on the intensity and length of exposure of the X-rays as well as how well shielded the electronic components are. That is why Animas told her to take the pump off. In the worst case scenario, some bits could be changed in the pumps memory that would alter basal rates or cause a bolus to be delivered. I am sure the pumps have safeguards against this built in, but it remains a possibility.
As a practical matter, I have been through the (non-xray) millimeter wave imagers with the Omnipod, and so far it hasn't caused a problem.
I would be able to grok the story, if it said how the pump was broken. Or even when the pump was broken. Did it break when disconnected? Did the TSA manhandle it? Did it catch on fire in the scanner? Dropped on the floor? ???
Disconnecting a pump and running it through the scanner, I would not expect to break the pump. All kinds of electronics and mechanics get run through the scanners without a glitch all the time.
I know it's off-topic, but what an awesome job Heinlein did on that book :)
I have called Medtronic several times with this question. Every time they have told me that my pump may not continue to work correctly if exposed to the rays in the full body scanner. TSA agents at several different airports have told me that the machines pose no risk to my pump. I opt for the pat down, (which in the last few months has really been rubbing my hands on my pump and having them swabbed by the TSA agent) because it is easier for me to do that than risk damage to my pump. In my opinoin, the biggest inconvenience is waiting for them to find a female agent. I really wouldn't object to a male swabbing my palms, since it is completely noninvasive, but that is not their protocol. At one airport they did allow me to disconnect the pump from the reservoir and go through the scanner while the agent held my pump.
Put the pump in the small of your back when going through a metal detector and it doesn't detect it. I have done it many times and never once has it went off. My only issue has been on the actual plane when another passenger thought it was a bomb and told the flight attendant. She came over to me and asked me what it was and I showed her my dr's note and it turned out i had a dr sitting next to me and he told her what it was as well.
More DRAMA at the airport! My own pump clearly says not to wear it in x-ray, fbs, mri, or any other magnetic, radiative, or electromagnetic equipment. The pump can be damaged. It also says the metal detectors are okay. As for disconnecting it...sure that's an option but the pump would still be analyzed, and I don't want anyone touching mine. I just opt for the pat down and avoid the drama. I have never announced my diabetes or my pump at all when going through security. My carry on gets more scrutiny than I do usually!