Warning::: damaged pump a few weeks after being sent thru FBS at airport


#1

Just wanted to put this out there for everyone. My VERY FIRST flight EVER was July 5, to attend Master Lab in Orlando. I picked everyone’s brains about traveling with all my t1 stuff, I read TONS of info on many different sites and knew that Minimed does not advise pumps be sent through scanners. Leaving out of our small airport LEXINGTON KENTUCKY I was nervous but anxious to get the security check out of the way. I had called TSA to request an agent escort me through (TSA Cares) since it was my first time. I asked for said agent once I got there (who was supposed to be set up to meet me there through TSA Cares) but was told that I’d “be okay”. So, I got in line, thinking the same lady would meet me once I got to the scanners. Not so. A large, very grouchy lady ordered me through the full body scanner even after I told her I had an insulin pump. Not having a clue about the whole process, once she basically ordered me to go through it, saying “It won’t hurt it.” I went through and went on with my trip. About two weeks ago, when changing my pump site, I noticed a “motor error” message. When I hit ACT, it disappeared so I went ahead with the change and never thought much about it. The next site change, I didn’t notice the error message, but then the third change (3rd after my trip) it gave that same warning again. I once again went ahead with my site change but decided I should call Medtronic to make sure nothing was wrong. The tech asked if my pump had sustained any damage and I told her no, but then remembered the scanner and related that to her. She said, “Ah, so it did get damaged.” Hmm… she seemed like it wasn’t a big deal (that I’d been made to go through the scanner) and went about arranging a replacement to be shipped next day, but she did confirm that this sort of damage/error was from going through that scanner.
I was so mad because I made a special effort to tell the TSA agents about my pump and that I didn’t think I should take it through the scanner. So…my PSA is to be aware that the TSA agents at Lexington KY airport do NOT know procedure, either about insulin pumps NOR about how to help people out when they set up TSA Cares. The TSAC agent in Orlando was an absolute JEWEL!! She called me ahead of time to tell me where she’d meet me, walked me through every step of the security check, including bypassing the very long line of people waiting. Maybe all smaller airports are less apt to do things properly? Idk, but I will not be taking my pump through any sort of scanner again!!


#2

Did Medtronic replace your TSA-damaged pump? Good for them since they technically could refuse based on your violating the warranty. I’ve refused going through the “naked scanner” but have put pump many different pumps through the hand-baggage x-ray scanner but luckily have never had a problem due to that.


#3

Wow, sorry that happened. In the future refuse to go through until they get someone to do their job properly. I was told by tslim not to go through any sort of scanners. I won’t go through them at security checks etc. but I have gone through them at department stores etc. which don’t seem to have any effect.


#4

Yes, @Terry4, they sure did. Without batting an eye. Medtronic has been excellent about standing behind their product at all times in the twelve+ years I’ve had one. :+1:t3::heart:


#5

Yeah, at least now I know! I probably wouldn’t have made the connection between that scan & the malfunction otherwise. I just wanted everyone to know that according to Medtronic, you can sustain damage to the pump that doesn’t show up for several weeks! I’m just glad it didn’t blow up on me while I was gone. That was my biggest fear & the very reason I read so much, asked questions & called TSA directly!!


#6

I’m sorry that happened to you! Each time I fly I let the TSA agent manning the scanner know that I’m “opting out.” They don’t ask questions and just call out for a “female assist.” The agent that pats me down is the one I tell about the pump. I do this anywhere there is the body scanner. In a lot of international airports, they don’t have these yet so it’s a lot easier and I just go through the old-school scanner.


#7

Sorry that happened. It could be completely unrelated. Motor errors in Medtronic pumps are not unheard of. I travel a lot and have never had an issue with the full body scan and my medtronic pump. But regardless you should have been able to opt out of the scan.


#8

Seriously? I’ve always understood that was the biggest no-no. Not to mention depending on where I am in my rotation cycle I’d have to drop trou to detach it. Plus I’ve never had TSA make any fuss about not putting either my pump or my CGM receiver through when I told them about it so why even take the chance?


#9

Medtronic is the best about supporting their products that I have ever dealt with. Now having said that some versions of Medtronic pumps have a tendency over time to produce a motor error. I never walk thru a metal detector with my pump but some versions of the Medtronic pump are just notorious for this issue. I hope that is not the case in your situation.

The great news is that if one has to have a bum pump you could do a lot worse than Medtronic.


#10

I started pumping in 1987 and was working an airline job. I flew 4-6 times each year during that period. I had a series of Mini-Med pumps during those years and I often detached and put my pump through in the hand baggage. In the last several years I keep my Ping pump in my pocket with the metal belt-clip removed. I don’t know when the pumps started becoming sensitive to the x-rays, maybe as they started using radio frequency communication to pass off info to other devices.


#11

Interesting. I wore a pump for 24 years (up until 3/2016), flew once or twice a month for the last 10 years or so, and never took my pump off when going in the full body scanners nor the xray. Never had a problem with the pump, nor the CGM.


#12

Over the years the pumps have become more sensitive to X-rays as the electronics in them have shrunk by orders of magnitude and are using much lower voltages. These days it would be unwise to expose either a pump or a CGM to X-rays or to the scanner at the airport especially since we are advised to not do so by the manufacturer. Not everyone is like Medtronic, if you misuse the device they may refuse to replace it.

I travel often and just started the CGM a month ago. I’ve had no problem handing my CGM to TSA in a bag with the page from the user manual that says “don’t X-ray or scan” and they just check that my Dexcom receiver is not a bomb (Duh). When I’ve been asked to go through the AIS I simply say “I am wearing a medical device and going through the scanner could END VERY BADLY.” I just leave it at that and I get the pat down. As someone with diabetes, the best thing I ever did for travel was get Global Entry which comes with Pre-check which assures me at most major US airports I have expedited security and only metal detectors.


#13

Minimed uses RF to pull results from ContourNext BG meters so maybe that’s it. For me it’s less a concern about x-rays than the inconvenience of taking the thing off. Plus not wanting to take a chance on violating warranty–I sure can’t afford to replace it! So if Medtronic says “don’t” then I don’t.


#14

I’ve had my CGMs x-ray’d probably 50 times. Never an issue. I guess I live on the edge😃. Now I have dropped it in water and I can vouch for that being a big problem!!


#15

My abuse of Pumps and CGM include Minimed 530G, along with the Enlites and the Connect, and the Dexcom G5.


#16

I have been using an insulin pump for almost 25 years and a cgm for about 6. I fly about 30,000 miles a year, all over the USA, and have never sent my pump or my CGM transmitter through the X-ray. You do NOT have to give up your ADA protected right of privacy by announcing you have a medical device. All you have to say is “I opt out” and you will get a pat-down (or pay for TSAprecheck), then you walk through the magnetometer.


#17

I am sorry you have to deal with a damaged pump, but Medtronic absolutely advises not to subject their pumps to x-ray machines (which includes not putting them on the conveyor belt / scanner for hand luggage, as well as not going though the full-body scanners). Only the standard metal detector gates are OK. It’s super annoying, but I learned (also from experience a long time ago) to always request the manual pat-down, regardless of how many TSA staff members roll their eyes at me.

See here:
http://www.medtronicdiabetes.com/customer-support/traveling-with-an-insulin-pump-or-device, especially the section “Airport Security Guidelines”.


#18

Pump manufacturers strongly recommend that you do not send your pump through the X-ray scanner (the belt for hand luggage). This does not apply to the full-body (walk through) scanners which provide very low doses of radiation. This is allowed.

Pump failures do occur. In 9 years of pumping I have had two catastrophic failures (i.e. ones that resulted in no insulin delivery), including a motor error on a Medtronic pump. Also a couple of non-fatal errors that required pump replacement. Just back from vacation and my Animas Vibe died spectacularly on the flight home (NO DELIVERY - CALL SERVICE - RERMOVE BATTERY TO SILENCE ALARM) accompanied by wailing alarm plus vibration). The replacement that Animas sent out was faulty from the get-go and wouldn’t work at all).

I suspect the OPs motor failure was not the responsibility of TSA.

Joel


#19

CORRECTION CORRECTION CORRECTION

I just checked and this is incorrect! Both Animas and Medtronic recommend that you do not take your pump through the body scanner (the magnetic metal detector is OK). The consensus of comments online seems to be that the doses of X-rays from the baggage scanner is high and likely to cause problems. With the body scanners it is more a case that the pump manufacturers are being cautious as they have not carried out the appropriate tests.

I have taken my pump many times through the body scanner as it ALWAYS sets off the metal detector alarm. I don’t know if this is connected with the recent failure - I suspect not but will never know.

BTW if you think TSA in the USA is bad you should try Paris Orly!!! Took my about 20-30 mins to get through even though I was willing to walk through the body scanner. AND I speak reasonable French (none of the security spoke ANY English at all - I would hate to try it as a non-French speaker). Personally, given the choice in future I would still walk through the scanner as the alternative would likely be not to be allowed on the flight.


#20

Recently I met with a Medtronics rep and asked her why we’re told not to take a pump go through the full body scanners (FBS). Her answer was that Medtronics has not fully tested that scenario yet and out of an abundance of caution recommends avoiding the scanner and the conveyor belt x-ray machine.

My physics background makes me wonder if there is a real danger in the FBS due to the oscillating electromagnetic fields it relies on for operation, they emit millimeter length EM waves. An oscillating field will create a small current flow in electronics which may cause the motor to move, jam or malfunction in some other manner. I’d be surprised if the current is large enough to damage the electronics but it’s not entirely impossible.

I personally am not willing to risk a pump malfunction on a trip just to avoid an airport pat-down, especially if I get a cigarette when it’s over. :slight_smile:

Wheelman


TSlim sets off metal detector?