Accidentally Using Levermir Instead Of Short Acting Insulin

The pharmacist discusses the ramifications of accidentally using Levemir, a long acting insulin, instead of a short acting insulin.


What would happen if someone was given a long lasting insulin like Levemir accidentally in addition to the daily dose of Levemir for a week instead of any short acting insulin? What would the meter readings look like for that situation?

Asked by Linda On Apr 23, 2018

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By PharmacistAnswers Staff

On Apr 25, 2018

It's tough to say exactly how accidentally giving extra doses of Levemir, a long acting insulin, instead of a short acting insulin will effect long term glucose numbers.

Most likely, postprandial (i.e. after a meal) glucose numbers will increase since Levermir is not a fast acting insulin. In fact, peak effects of Levemir generally occur 6 to 8 hours after injection. High glucose levels, even temporarily, can be damaging to many part of the body.

There is certainly some concern that using extra doses of Levemir will increase your risk of hypoglycemia (i.e. low blood sugar) as you are essentially double-dosing a long acting insulin. Symptoms of hypoglycemia include:

  • Shaking
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Fatigue

To summarize, there are two issues with accidentally using Levemir instead of a short acting insulin:

  • Postprandial glucose levels will most likely increase.
  • Average glucose numbers may decrease and you may be at an increased risk of hypoglycemia.

It is important to take your insulin products as directed and if there was a mistake made in dosing, be sure to reach out to your doctor so you can be evaluated appropriately. 

About the Pharmacist

Dr. Brian Staiger Pharm.D

Dr. Brian Staiger is a licensed pharmacist in New York State and the founder of He graduated from the University At Buffalo with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 2010. He has been featured in numerous publications including the Huffington Post as well as a variety of health and pharmacy-related blogs. Please feel free to reach out to him directly if you have any inquiries or want to connect! He's answered thousands of medication and pharmacy-related questions and he's ready to answer yours! Office: 716-389-3076

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