Diabetic meters and strips
Diabetic meters and strips are part of a practice known as ‘self-monitoring of blood glucose.’ There is a third element that is of equal importance and that is lancets, also known as fingersticks or lancing devices. Since patients are responsible for their own blood glucose monitoring, they should adhere to a protocol that ensures not only the accuracy of testing, but also its safety. For example, using the right test strips. There are many different diabetic meter models and brands available and they should each be used with its corresponding strips to get correct results. This is especially true with meters that require the user to enter a code every time they open a new bottle of strips; failing to do so may result in inaccurate results. This step can be circumvented with no code meters and strips. Test strips should be stored and transported appropriately, and discarded as soon as they expire.
Diabetic patients are advised to use disposable lancets. That of course entails a constant expenditure that could be avoided by using a reusable fingerstick. If that’s your case, make sure that you do not share lancets with anyone else, under any circumstances. Actually, you should not even share the glucose meter either, but if you do, clean it and disinfect it immediately after each use, according to the product’s instructions. If there are no instructions regarding that, it’s best to simply refrain from sharing it. Why? Because HBV and other infectious agents can be indirectly transmitted through the meter even when there is no visible blood. Whatever you do, don’t assume that the meter never comes in contact with blood. As it turns out, meters that require test strip pre-loading may come in contact directly with the user’s fingerstick wound.
Cleanliness doesn’t just affect safety but also accuracy. Washing your hands with water and soap is essential for obtaining precise readings. In lieu of water and soap you can use rubbing alcohol (isopropyl), making sure to wipe off al residue before testing. Of course, you may find yourself in the need of testing your blood glucose under adverse circumstances –i.e. without water, soap, alcohol, etc to clean dirty hands. If push comes to shove, you can resort to this little trick: draw a second drop of blood after wiping away the first with a clean tissue or cloth. The second drop will be less likely to be contaminated. Diabetic meters and strips should be carried around in the containers that they came in, though. Test strips especially can be imperceptibly damaged by light and air. A resealable insulated container is ideal for the safekeeping of meter and strips whenever they would otherwise be exposed to extreme temperatures, humidity or high altitude.
Keep in mind that no available diabetic meters and strips are 100% accurate. As a matter of fact, the FDA’s guideline is that they measure blood glucose levels to within 20% for glucose at 75 mg/dl or higher and within 15 points for glucose lower than 75 mg/dl, at least 95%. One method for determining whether your meter and strips meet those requirements is using a control solution. The solution is used instead of a blood sample in the test strips for the meter to assess. Check that the control solution itself has not expired before using it; most solutions are effective for 90 days after opening the vial. Accuracy may also be improved by relying on finger pricks for samples, as opposed to other less dependable –though also less painful- sites like palms or forearms.
Related Read: One Touch Diabetic Supplies and Products