July DSMA Blog Carnival – Test Strip Accuracy.

On July 31, 2013 by Stephen Shaul

Let’s get right to it… One of the most basic things about our diabetes, and July’s DSMA Blog Carnival topic:

Blood glucose. It’s front and center when it comes to diabetes. It is how we get diagnosed and it is what we are trying to manage. An important tool we use to manage our blood glucose is our meter and its strips. But what happens if our meters aren’t giving reliable information? Let’s explore that this month as we discuss a topic from the June 26th chat Fill in the Blank. Weigh in on the following statement:

Test strip accuracy is important to me because______.

The easy answer is: Because our lives depend on it.

The more difficult, but very necessary analysis of what test strip accuracy is even more important, but leads to the same answer.

Let’s face it: Most of us don’t think too much about test strip accuracy once we’ve bought our blood glucose meters. Some of us received our meters from a doctor. Some of us went out and purchased a meter based on quality, or how it looks, or whether it has a function that lights up your test strip so you can check your BG at night without turning on the light. But for most of us, once we have a meter, we don’t stop to think much about the accuracy of the strips that we insert 3 or 4, or 10 or 12 times per day.

But we’re learning that there are reasons to be concerned about the accuracy of our test strips. Even the USA’s Food and Drug Administration, the agency of the government that has to approve all medical devices before they can be marketed or sold here, acknowledged that some test strips are not as accurate today as they were when they were approved for use in the first place. Furthermore, they have no method of removing inaccurate test strips from the market once they’re found to be inaccurate.

How does this happen? That’s the subject for another blog post. Instead, let me ask: How does that make you feel?

Raise your hand if you can live with using test strips that may be off by 50 or 100 points at any given time, based on any number of factors. Raise your hand if you it’s okay with you that heat or cold tolerances, or age, or humidity can skew the numbers on your meter display by enough to cause you to bolus a unit or more different from what you really need. Raise your hand if you’re perfectly fine with the idea that the company that developed the technology for the strips you’re using doesn’t have a plan to test the continuing accuracy of those strips (**Note: Some manufacturers do conduct ongoing tests on strips… many do not, and are not required to do so).

Think about it… millions upon millions of us, living with diabetes. Testing our blood glucose many times per day. Making decisions about diet and exercise and bolus amounts based on the numbers showing on our meters. Why? Because we want to believe that if medical technology has been approved for our use, the accuracy of that technology is above reproach. Do you see now why test strip accuracy is so important? It’s the baseline for countless decisions we make every day.

So without question, test strip accuracy means the world to myself and my loved ones. We want to know that the number on our glucose monitors is correct. Because our lives depend on it.

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