Common Glucose Meter User Errors

Amy Tenderich Health Guide
  • Reprinted with permission from Amy Tenderich of

    One entire section of the ADA Conference Expo is set aside every year for hundreds of oversized research posters that companies and clinics use to summarize their latest research results. Not particularly decorative posters, but sheets from 3-by-4-feet all the way up to 4'x8' packed with diagrams and numerical data. If you can stand to decipher them, they're fascinating. Since I was on the hunt for accuracy data on new continuous glucose monitors, I ventured into the long halls of poster-land and found some unexpected stuff.
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    A new study by Dr. Irl Hirsch (of Standard Deviation research fame) et al shows that the Memory Function on traditional glucose meters is NOT HELPING patients recognize patterns -- for the simple reason that most people aren't setting the date and time correctly on their meters, so the stored data is all askew. A study involving 270 patients, a mix of Type 1 and Type 2, showed that 21.2% of their meter times were incorrect, while 24% of the dates were flawed as well. Here's the breakdown:

    - Roche meters were worst off, with 50% of the time and date stamps being wrong (apparently their models are particularly difficult to set correct time & date)
    - Next were Bayer meters, with 48% off-timing
    - Then LifeScan meters at 30% time/date error rate
    - Abbott Diabetes meters at 29.2%
    - and the winner is: Becton Dickinson (BD) meters at just 15% time/date innaccuracy rate

    This is all about USER ERROR, mind you, since we patient types are tasked with setting the date and time on our meters. But the results suggest that date and time may just be too complicated to fiddle with on most meters. Or it may be that "different populations of patients use different meter types (e.g., more patients using insulin pumps use the BD meter)," the study notes. In either case, the doctors draw two important conclusions here:

    1) the diabetes community is becoming more dependent on glucose meter downloading, due to an increase in home blood glucose testing and the introduction of real-time continuous glucose sensors, so it's more important than ever to correct this problem soon
    2) a greater emphasis could be made to educate patients about date and time accuracy, but "a better solution would be to have the blood glucose meter industry make a greater effort to have the date and time set appropriately prior to use by the patient"

    Yes, make it easy and we will get it right. Right? Amen!
Published On: June 17, 2006