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Getting Up to Date on Glucose Meters

Tips for Proper Use continued...

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.

Know the factors that affect meter accuracy. These may include

  • testing conducted on unclean skin
  • improper storage of test strips
  • the amount of red blood cells (hematocrit) in the bloo
  • other substances present in the blood such as uric acid, glutathione, and vitamin C
  • altitude, temperature, and humidity
  • use of test strips developed as a less expensive option than the strips intended for a certain mete
  • test strips that cannot distinguish between glucose and other sugars. (See "Test Strip Safety: Vital Precautions," below)

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 at

Test Strip Safety: Vital Precautions

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.

WebMD Public Information from the FDA