Nobody questions our need for blood glucose meters to be accurate. Yet only a few of the meter manufacturers seem to be doing anything about it.
People with diabetes rely on our meters to see what the food we eat, the exercise we get, and the medication we take does to our blood glucose levels. Only when we know that our levels are too high or too low we can we take corrective action.
But anyone who has compared two readings on the same meter taken within a minute or two, or two readings on different meters, knows that the results could differ by 40 or 50 points. This can leave us so uncertain about what to do that we get frustrated. Worse, following incorrect results can be dangerous.
Our blood glucose meters are getting better. They have more bells and whistles that are important for some of us. We have a much greater choice of meters every year.
Investors keep writing me to say that they are going to make a noninvasive meter so we won’t feel a thing when we prick our sensitive little fingers. While nobody has cracked that code yet, many people have tried. If you doubt this, take a look on my website at The Pursuit of Noninvasive Glucose, an e-book by John L. Smith, Ph.D.
While many people who want to make money off of those of us who have diabetes are playing around with peripheral issues, some companies have begun to address the fundamental issue of meter accuracy. One of these companies is Nova Biomedical in Waltham, Massachusetts.
Nova Biomedical makes the StatStrip meter for hospitals. This is one of the leading glucose meters for point-of-care glucose testing in the hospital setting, where people do recognize the importance of accuracy.
We usually can’t get our hands on one. But a correspondent named Michael researched meter accuracy and wrote me about it.
"I discovered that the Nova Biomedical StatStrip was the most accurate meter made," he wrote. "It fluctuates only 6 percent. It is a commercial meter, they will not sell to the public, and it is very expensive. But one of my best friends is the head of ER at a hospital, and I was going to have him get it for me."
Then, Michael learned that company’s wholly owned subsidiary, Nova Diabetes Care, had just introduced a new meter for home use, the Nova Max Plus. He read that a study found that it was the most accurate meter on the market.
Indeed, the company says in a press release on PRWeb that "New Study Demonstrates Nova Max Plus Meter Is Most Accurate Glucose Meter." The study was a poster that M.J. O’Kane, M. McCloskey, and C. Diver-Hall of the Clinical Translational Research and Innovation Center in Londonderry, U.K., presented last September at the 47th Annual Meeting in Lisbon, Portugal, of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.
The study, "How Accurate Are Blood Glucose Meters Use for Patient Self Testing," which reports support by Nova Biomedical, in fact makes a more modest claim. The study compared the Nova Max Plus with six other meters. This meter and two others were "unaffected by the interferences assessed and demonstrated low and acceptable total error rates."
However, an even more recent study found considerable support for the accuracy of the Nova Max Plus meter. S. Ramljak and associates at the Institut fÃ¼r Klinische Forschung und Entwicklung in Mainz, Germany, reported in February to the 5th International Conference in Barcelona, Spain, of Advanced Technologies & Treatments for Diabetes.
The study, "Hematocrit Interference Is a Common Phenomenon in Many Devices for Glucose Self-Measurement," tested 20 meters for hematocrit interference, which in the past two or three years is more widely recognized as a problem with meter accuracy. Only seven of these meters met the accuracy criteria of the investigators. Four of the seven were meters that Nova makes, including the Nova Max Plus, Nova Max Link, and two that Nova sells overseas.
Nova’s Vice President Marketing Howard Deahr sent me a Nova Max Plus meter and supporting information on my request. I think that it must be one of the most accurate of the meters now on the market. While I don’t have the resources to do a comparison with the other choices we have, I can recommend it to your consideration.
While you might do better, you certainly could do a lot worse. Remember the wise words of the French writer Voltaire, which we sometimes translate as "The best is the enemy of the good."
David Mendosa was a journalist who learned in 1994 that he had type 2 diabetes, which he wrote about exclusively. He died in May 2017 after a short illness unrelated to diabetes. He wrote thousands of diabetes articles, two books about it, created one of the first diabetes websites, and published a monthly newsletter, “Diabetes Update.” His very low-carbohydrate diet, A1C level of 5.3, and BMI of 19.8 kept his diabetes in remission without any drugs until his death.