Operator Error in Diabetes Testing

David Mendosa Health Guide January 03, 2013
  • Saying that operator error is the biggest problem that people who have diabetes have when we check our blood sugar sounds like blaming the victim. But I’m convinced that some mistakes we make when using our meters and test strips and lancets is the reason why testing so often gives us wacky blo...

9 Comments
  • Karen Lee Richards
    Health Guide
    Jan. 03, 2013

    Thank you for this info, David.  This may explain why my blood glucose readings are sometimes wildly different than I would expect.  I'll be extra careful from now on.  Valuable information!

  • jerseyhiker
    Feb. 14, 2013

    David, I had to rise to the occasion when you stated in my last post that a 3rd meter would be needed to ascertain why 2 meters gave such different results.  When I pulled out my not-recently-used Jazz meter.  Sure enough, all 3 (Aviva and Max Plus) gave very similar post-prandial results 115-119-112 and several occasions. However, this a.m., my fasting...

    RHMLucky777

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    David, I had to rise to the occasion when you stated in my last post that a 3rd meter would be needed to ascertain why 2 meters gave such different results.  When I pulled out my not-recently-used Jazz meter.  Sure enough, all 3 (Aviva and Max Plus) gave very similar post-prandial results 115-119-112 and several occasions. However, this a.m., my fasting numbers on all 3 meters were again very different 112, 126, 127-- so no way to determine the correct reading.  I took another sample after a cup of decaf: 117, 122, 134.  THIS IS NOT OPERATOR ERROR, despite the rather offensive post by the woman who chastized many folks.  She would have found a more receptive audience if she had merely listed incorrect useage instead of excoriating people.

     

    The reason for all this attention on my part is because my doc is curious as to why my A1C is 5.4 while my fasting a.m. numbers are always in the 120's.  She wanted me to try different meters.  I take extreme care to wash with extremely hot water, shake finger, push blood toward lancing site w/o touching lancing site, etc.

  • jerseyhiker
    Feb. 11, 2013

    I did everything you recommended: washed my hands first then warmed up finger to be lanced by washing it again under really hot water then  shaking it; then wiped it dry lightly the first time with kleenex and second lancing using a cotton ball.  With two, yes 2 meter, Aviva measured 107/108 and at the same time with same blood sample the Max Plus...

    RHMLucky777

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    I did everything you recommended: washed my hands first then warmed up finger to be lanced by washing it again under really hot water then  shaking it; then wiped it dry lightly the first time with kleenex and second lancing using a cotton ball.  With two, yes 2 meter, Aviva measured 107/108 and at the same time with same blood sample the Max Plus measured 120/127.  Could it be that my blood sugar was in the midst of rising, since it had been 2.25 hrs since eating a higher carb meal than usual?

    • David Mendosa
      Health Guide
      Feb. 11, 2013

      Dear Lee,

       

      Without a third meter, we have no way of knowing. Remember when we sent rockets into space? We used to have three computers on board (and maybe we still do). We knew that one of them could malfunction, but determining which one was bad wasn't possible without a third one. So the three computers literally voted on everything and we went with...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      Dear Lee,

       

      Without a third meter, we have no way of knowing. Remember when we sent rockets into space? We used to have three computers on board (and maybe we still do). We knew that one of them could malfunction, but determining which one was bad wasn't possible without a third one. So the three computers literally voted on everything and we went with the majority.

       

      Namaste,

       

      David

    • jerseyhiker
      Feb. 14, 2013

      David, I had to rise to the occasion when you stated in my last post that a 3rd meter would be needed to ascertain why 2 meters gave such different results.  When I pulled out my not-recently-used Jazz meter.  Sure enough, all 3 (Aviva and Max Plus) gave very similar post-prandial results 115-119-112 and several occasions. However, this a.m., my fasting...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      David, I had to rise to the occasion when you stated in my last post that a 3rd meter would be needed to ascertain why 2 meters gave such different results.  When I pulled out my not-recently-used Jazz meter.  Sure enough, all 3 (Aviva and Max Plus) gave very similar post-prandial results 115-119-112 and several occasions. However, this a.m., my fasting numbers on all 3 meters were again very different 112, 126, 127-- so no way to determine the correct reading.  I took another sample after a cup of decaf: 117, 122, 134.  THIS IS NOT OPERATOR ERROR, despite the rather offensive post by the woman who chastized many folks.  She would have found a more receptive audience if she had merely listed incorrect useage instead of excoriating people.

       

      The reason for all this attention on my part is because my doc is curious as to why my A1C is 5.4 while my fasting a.m. numbers are always in the 120's.  She wanted me to try different meters.  I take extreme care to wash with extremely hot water, shake finger, push blood toward lancing site w/o touching lancing site, etc.

  • Anonymous
    Yorgus
    Jan. 31, 2013

    David,

     

    I agree with thoroughly washing your hands before testing, with warm or hot water. However, I have also found that test results vary depending on the soap I use. I usually use liquid or foam hand soaps, which are detergents. Many of them contain fragrances, and some, I suspect, contain either sugars or alcohols or sugar alcohols, as I tend to...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    David,

     

    I agree with thoroughly washing your hands before testing, with warm or hot water. However, I have also found that test results vary depending on the soap I use. I usually use liquid or foam hand soaps, which are detergents. Many of them contain fragrances, and some, I suspect, contain either sugars or alcohols or sugar alcohols, as I tend to get much higher test results after using them. As a result, before testing, I wash my hands with plain old bar soap. If nothing else, it is controlling for a variable.

  • Pam Flores
    Health Guide
    Jan. 08, 2013

    Thanks David!  I always wondered about this and you have answered my questions.

     

    Pam

  • RobertIA
    Jan. 06, 2013

    David,  These are errors, but whether they are operator error or just stupid mistakes is the question.  I have seen people carrying test strips is zip-lock bags, but not in the original container.  I have watched people not use test strips within the desired time from removing them from the container and wonder why they could not get accurate...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    David,  These are errors, but whether they are operator error or just stupid mistakes is the question.  I have seen people carrying test strips is zip-lock bags, but not in the original container.  I have watched people not use test strips within the desired time from removing them from the container and wonder why they could not get accurate readings.  I have seen people in the summer stand in direct sunlight when taking test strips out of their container and put them in the meter and then lay the meter in direct sunlight to prick their finger.  If they would have at least shielded them with their body, they might have received more accurate results.  I have seen what may have been meters and test strips in cases baking on the car dashboard to say nothing about the internal heat of the car.  Even in winter, they should not be stored in the car.  When I see this happening, I wonder if they take the same care of their diabetes.  I have seen people handle test strips with wet hands.  While not operator error by the individual with diabetes, I have seen nurses in nursing homes use the same lancet in patient after patient. I hope this helps build a larger database of things not to do.

    • David Mendosa
      Health Guide
      Jan. 07, 2013

      Dear Bob,

       

      Those additional mistakes that some people make that you write about in your comment above can really help others avoid the same operator errors. Many thanks.

       

      Thanks too for the series of articles that you started to post on "Tips for Glucose Testing" at http://bobsdiabetes.blogspot.com/2013/01/tips-for-glucose-testing-part-1.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ExploringDiabetesType2+%28Exploring+Diabetes+Type+2%29...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      Dear Bob,

       

      Those additional mistakes that some people make that you write about in your comment above can really help others avoid the same operator errors. Many thanks.

       

      Thanks too for the series of articles that you started to post on "Tips for Glucose Testing" at http://bobsdiabetes.blogspot.com/2013/01/tips-for-glucose-testing-part-1.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ExploringDiabetesType2+%28Exploring+Diabetes+Type+2%29

       

      Namaste,

       

      David