We've heard that the cost of test strips can vary greatly. We've also heard that these test strips - and the blood glucose monitors they're used with - can provide inaccurate data. As we've dug into this topic, people with diabetes and clinicians have told us that the inaccuracy of these strips and glucometers is a huge – and life-threatening – issue.
Strip Safely is an online campaign intended to raise awareness about the inaccurate blood glucose test strips and monitors on the market – and spark change. Here's how it describes this problem:
"Patients using meters that fail to meet accuracy standards face increased risks. Inaccurately high meter readings may cause patients to take too much insulin resulting in insulin shock. Conversely, meters that incorrectly show low results may keep patients from taking enough insulin. To [sic] little insulin may cause high blood glucose and possibly risky diabetic ketoacidosis."
On the diabetes blog Six Until Me, Kerri Morrone Sparling wrote in 2011 about her experiments with different glucose meters. She has photos of several meters displaying very different blood sugar numbers. She writes:
I know there is an "acceptable" 20% margin of error, but how would you even know to double-check your meter? This issue matters to me, and it matters a lot. These glucose meters are the only tools I have to monitor my blood sugars, and I make treatment decisions based on their results. I need them to be consistent, and accurate. If I'm treating highs that aren't high, I could end up with a serious hypoglycemic event. And if I'm treating lows that aren't lows, I'll end up running higher and that, in the long run, will hurt my body.
We'll delve into why some meters are inaccurate – and what is, or isn't, being done about it – in a later post.
But to kick off National Diabetes Month, we want to hear from you: What are your experiences with inaccurate diabetes test strips and glucose monitors? How does the inaccuracy affect your health? Does it change how you manage your diabetes? What can you do to fix the situation? Tell us about it in the comments section below, or e-mail us at Impatient@scpr.org.