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How Accurate Are Your Glucometers?

How Accurate Are Your Glucometers?

Grace is an amateur blogger and diabetes expert who started writing about diabetes and benefits of glucometers when his eldest child was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in 2005. She is currently writing an ebook on caring for diabetic children.

When shopping for glucometers, one of the factors that may affect your purchasing decision is accuracy. Because blood glucose testing results are essential in managing diabetes and determining insulin treatments, glucometers need to be highly accurate. However, it is not as clear cut as it sounds, as certain positive and negative factors come into play that affects the accuracy of a glucometer reading.

To guarantee the accuracy of the reading, glucometers manufactured today must comply with accuracy standards set by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), specifically the ISO 15197. To comply with the standard, a glucometer must provide results that are within 20% of the laboratory standard 95% of the time. In addition glucometers also follow what is called the Clarke Error Grid, which quantifies the clinical accuracy of patient estimates of their blood glucose levels with that of the blood glucose value taken by the meter. The grid is the go-to basis for analyzing and displaying accuracy of readings related to management consequences, although it is gradually being replaced with the more accurate Consensus Error Grid.

However, despite these measures it is still not possible for glucometers to provide a 100% accuracy rating due to several. Some of these include the calibration of the meter, the temperature where the meter was stored and used, the age and condition of the test strips, quality of the blood sample, dirt and humidity. High concentrations of certain chemical compounds such as ascorbic acid in the blood may also affect the accuracy of the meter reading.

Another factor that may drastically skew the accuracy of the reading in glucometers is the presence of the sugars galactose, maltose and xylose. In a safety alert published by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2005 and amended 2010, people taking medications or using products containing these galactose, maltose and xylose are advised to take precautions as glucometers that use the glucose dehydrogenase pyrroloquinoline-quinone (GDH-PQQ) testing method may report highly elevated levels of glucose in the presence of these three sugars. Meters with GDH-PQQ-based systems are non-specific to glucose and may associate galactose, maltose and xylose with it and thus result with an inaccurate reading. Some of the medications that may contain these two sugars include intravenous immunoglobulin medications and peritoneal dialysis solutions.

Glucometers and other diabetes monitoring devices used at home, in point-of-care settings and laboratory glucose assays all use GDH-PQQ, glucose dehydrogenase nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (GDH-NAD), glucose oxidase, or glucose hexokinase test method. Of all of these only the GDH-PHQ testing method affects the accuracy of glucose meter readings, while the remaining testing methods appear not to be affected by the presence of galactose, maltose or xylose.

To prevent your glucometers from giving out false readings and ensure accuracy, you should perform the following:

Find out whether your glucometer uses a GDH-PQQ, GDH-NAD, glucoseoxidase, or glucose hexokinase testing method to measure the amount of glucose in the blood. The testing method is often specified in on a device label and on the user’s operating manual. You can also try contacting the manufacturer to determine what type of testing method your meter uses.
If you have received intravenous immunoglobulin medications, taken oral xylose or within the last 24 hours or undergoing peritoneal dialysis, use only glucometers that utilize GDH-NAD, glucose oxidase, or glucose hexokinase testing methods

Here are some other tips you need to follow to maintain the accuracy of your glucometers and keep them in good working condition:

Make sure that you keep enough batteries for your glucometers and replace those that have been drained out. A drained battery may affect the performance of the meter
Keep your glucometer, test strips and other testing supplies in a clean, dry place, preferably where it can be accessed easily.
Talk with your doctor on how often and at what times of the day you should perform testing.

Keeping watch over the accuracy of your glucometers is important, but so is managing your diabetes. Regular blood sugar monitoring, coupled with proper exercise, a diet rich in green leafy vegetables and frequent visits to your doctor or health care provider can help maintain a healthy lifestyle and ward off the complications caused by diabetes. To learn more about glucometer accuracy and apply for free meters such as the One Touch Ultra.

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