Getting Up to Date on Glucose Meters
Read instructions carefully. Glucose meters and test strips must come with instructions for use. Your user manual should also include a toll-free phone number that you can use to contact the manufacturer. How often you use your glucose meter, and the results you should expect, should be based on the recommendations of your health care provider.
Use the test strips that are recommended for your glucose meter. It is important to only use the test strips that are specified for your glucose meter. Otherwise, the device may fail to give results or may generate inaccurate results.
Know that readings taken from "alternate sites" may not always be as accurate as readings from the fingertips. These readings can differ at times when glucose levels are changing rapidly. This is common after a meal, after taking insulin, during exercise, or when you are ill or under stress.
Use blood from a fingertip rather than an alternate site if you think your blood glucose is low, you don't normally have symptoms when your blood glucose is low, or the results from the alternate site doesn't match how you are feeling.
Perform quality-control checks with test control solutions to ensure that the test strips and meter are working properly together. Some meters may also provide electronic test strips that induce a signal to indicate if the meter (and only the meter) is working properly. In addition, perform quality control checks with control solutions regularly to ensure the meter is working properly.
Ask your health care provider to watch you test yourself. He or she can tell you if you are using the meter correctly.
Know when and how to clean your meter. Some meters need regular cleaning. Others don't need regular cleaning, but contain electronic alerts indicating when you should clean them. You should follow the directions given in the manual on how to clean the meter. Only the manufacturer can clean some meters.
Understand what the meter display means. The range of glucose values can be different among meters. Be sure you know how high and low glucose values are displayed on your meter. Sometimes they are displayed as “LO” or "HI" when the glucose level is beyond the range than the meter can measure.
Report problems to the manufacturer and to FDA. If you suspect that a death or serious injury was related to false glucose readings, follow the mandatory reporting procedure established by your hospital or user facility. Report adverse events not related to serious injuries to the device manufacturer. You can also report events to MedWatch, the FDA's voluntary reporting program.
Some glucose meters use a type of test strip that cannot distinguish between glucose and other sugars.
Certain treatments for diseases or conditions (peritoneal dialysis, for example) may contain one of the other sugars, and lead a glucose meter to reflect both the actual blood glucose and the other sugar you have received. Falsely elevated readings in such cases can lead to excessive insulin treatment, which can result in hypoglycemic shock and death.
Consumers can tell if a test strip is of the type that cannot distinguishes between glucose and other sugars by checking the product's package insert for reagents identified as GDH-PQQ or GDO.
If you use meters and strips that cannot distinguish between the sugars, take these additional precautions:
This article appears on FDA's Consumer Update page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.
Updated: February 23, 2009
For More Information