Diabetes Still Isn't Easy
Diabetes Still Isn't Easy

FDI is dedicated to diabetes education, nutritional counseling, and wellness programming.

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Tips For Going Through Airport Security With Diabetes

All the major diabetes sites and guidelines have travel advice but a recent event proved that there is a gap somewhere in this information. This information gap is due to the lack of attention given to the fact thatordinary human beings are playing a big role in travel, especially air travel.

The story? You may have read about Savannah Barry, the 16 year girl with type 1 diabetes who attempted to fly home from a school trip while wearing her insulin pump. She had all the appropriate documents, including letters from her doctor,and from the pump manufacturer. So she thought. At the security gate, she requested a pat down so as not to compromise her pump. The TSA agent refused, put her through the full-body scanner and effectively destroyed the pump (a $10,000 item). 

When I read this I went ballistic with anger but then I calmed down and realized that the TSA agent was just an ordinary person who though she was doing the right thing. If you go to the TSA site and look at their section on "chronic disease,"  you'll find that in the section covering type 2 diabetes, it is very clear that a pat down is all that is necessary for some one who wears a pump.

But, should we really expect that the line TSA person will know the entire document? Probably not.

So, among your travel document, along with all those letters, be sure to carry a copy of the TSA's own regulations on pumps and patdowns. Bring copies whether you use a pump, syringes, or pens and prevent the issues by being prepared to the hilt. 

Finally, make sure you carry duplicates of everything (meds, papers, ect.) in two separate carry on locations. 

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About the Author


Dr. Bernstein is director of the diabetes management program at the Friedman Diabetes Institute.