Test strips. I use about ten every day. My fingertips have tiny holes in them. I've seen thousands of numbers on my meter screens. Every single number helps me cope with diabetes. Or does it?
On my meter I've seen this.
I make daily decisions about my health based on the numbers on my meter. But, what if those numbers are wrong?
I don't mean what if my meter says my blood sugar is 120 and it's really 119. I mean, what if my meter says 200 and my blood sugar is really 120, or 280. Or somewhere in between.
If you think that's impossible, take a look at the eye opening quiz on Strip Safely.
Did you know the accuracy standards for glucose meters were set in 2003? How long ago was that? Well, in 2003, the iPhone hadn't been invented yet. YouTube hadn't been invented yet, either. Facebook and Twitter didn't exist. A lot has changed since 2003. Our meters need to change as well.
Although the standards set in 2003 require meters to be accurate +/- 20%, 95% of the time, not all meters are meeting that standard. Some meters are off by as much as 40%.
Here are recommendations from the Strip Safely Website:
- Recognition that the accuracy of BG strips is a public health and safety issue. ◦ 25 million PWD in USA are at risk.10
- Ongoing testing of BG strips to assure compliance with regulatory accuracy standards.
- Quality assurance should be done on strips sold through normal distribution channels.
- Standards for accuracy should improve to the latest ISO standards.
- The standards that meters and strips are failing to achieve is 2003’s +/- 20%, 95% of the time
- We need better accuracy standards than ones created in 2003.
- CMS competitive bidding should create a process that consider quality not just price.
- Public awareness of how to file an adverse event complaint on BG testing systems.
- Contact information to file an adverse outcomes report should be on all BG testing devices.
I wouldn't accept a steering wheel with +/- 20% accuracy 95% of the time. Can you imagine having a speedometer that registered your speed +/- 20% 95% of the time. Or a brake pedal stopping your car +/- 20% of the time? As a person with diabetes, my meter is my speedometer. It's my steering wheel. It tells me when I need to give myself more insulin, and how much.
Right now my meter says my blood sugar is 100. Or is it 120? Or 80? 60? 140? The truth is, my blood sugar is somewhere between giving myself a correction through my insulin pump, and eating a glucose tablet. All I want to do is look after my diabetes. What good are meters if I can't trust them?
Take a look, and then make some noise. It matters.