Blood glucose monitors: What factors affect accuracy?

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Blood glucose monitors: What factors affect accuracy?

Question

Sometimes my blood glucose monitor seems to give incorrect readings. What can I do to make sure the measurement is accurate?

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Answer

When used correctly, blood glucose monitors — small devices that measure and display your blood sugar level — are usually accurate. But occasionally they're incorrect.

Consider these factors that affect meter accuracy and the steps to resolve or prevent the problem:

Factors that affect accuracy Solutions
Test strip problems Throw out damaged or outdated test strips. Store strips in their sealed container; keep them away from heat, moisture and humidity. Be sure the strips are meant for your specific glucose meter.
Extreme temperatures Keep your glucose meter and test strips at room temperature.
Alcohol, dirt or other substances on your skin Wash your hands and the testing site with soap and water before pricking your skin.
Improper coding Some meters must be coded to each container of test strips. Be sure the code number in the device matches the code number on the test strip container.
Monitor problems Fully insert the test strip into the monitor. Replace the monitor batteries as needed.
Not enough blood applied to the test strip Apply a generous drop of blood to the test strip. Don't add more blood to the test strip after the first drop is applied.
Testing site location If you're using a site other than your fingertip and you think the reading is wrong, test again using blood from a fingertip. Blood samples from alternate sites aren't as accurate as fingertip samples when your blood sugar level is rising or falling quickly.
Last Updated: 2012-03-13
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