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- Self monitoring of blood glucose can provide important information for patients with diabetes to help manage their disease. The DCCT showed that patients who monitor their blood glucose regularly experienced delayed onset and slower progression of clinically relevant diabetes complications.
- The quality of information obtained relies on a combination of: 1) analytical performance of the glucometer, 2) the quality of the test strips, and 3) the proficiency of the user.
- Patient education is important to minimize errors and improve clinical accuracy.
- Current technology has improved available home meters to be faster and simpler to use. Almost all glucometers on the market now provide glucose readings within 5 seconds. Previous glucometers required manuel coding to standardize each new batch of test strips. This requires a numeric code from each new batch of test strips to be entered into the glucometer. Many newer glucometers automatically perform this coding via a microchip embedded within the test strip. This automatization helps minimize errors.
- Many glucometers can have information downloaded to computer software to create a printable or electronic summary of test results. This information can be helpful for patients and providers to see trends in glucose readings and assist in medication adjustments.
- Factors to consider when choosing a glucometer include: size of meter, ease of use, display screen size, back lighting, memory capacity to store results, ability to transfer data to a computer, cost of the meter and test strips, need to handle individual test strips and code test strips.
- A wide range of products are on the market with over 40 glucometers available in the United States. Individual glucometers have variable features. A sampling of the most commonly used glucometers and some of their features is provided below.
- Lancing devices are typically spring loaded pen shaped tools that hold a lancet (needle) to prick the finger or alternate site to obtain a blood sample for testing. Most glucometers come with a lancing device.
- Most lancets (needles) are recommended for one time use only. Some devices such as the Accu-Chek Multiclix are stored in a drum with multiple lancets. This allows for automatic change of the lancet with each new test. The drum is then discarded after all of its lancets have been used.
- Lancet size ranges from 23 gauge needles (smallest) to 33 gauge needles (largest). Most on the market are size 28 gauge. The smallest size needle recommended for alternate site testing is 28 gauge. Typically, smaller needles lead to less patient discomfort.
- Single use, disposable, combination lancing device and lancets are also available. These combination devices allow the patient to forego the need to put a lancet into a lancing device and instead to just use a small disposable, all in one device.