Accuracy: 2 Blood Glucose Meters With Different Readings
Our diabetes educator helps you understand your blood glucose meter.
My patients frequently come to me with questions concerning their blood glucose testing equipment. A commonly asked question is Why do my testing results vary meter to meter? The answer simplified is that meters are tested for accuracy and must adhere to Self-Testing Blood Glucose Monitoring System ISO standard and US guidance, and can only vary by 15 percent compared to reference method. The variation allowance confused a lot of patients. This can be especially alarming when using a new product that doesnt seem to match up to a blood glucose meter you have been using.
The ISO, International Standards Organization, has guidelines that meter companies must meet and the FDA in the US as well. Currently, all measured blood glucose meter values must be within 15 percent of the true lab value of blood glucose 95 percent of the time and within 20 percent of the lab value 99 percent of the time
Although this can be confusing, a blood glucose value that is a lab value of 100mg/dl could conceivably show up on a meter as 80-120mg/dl and still be considered accurate.
Fortunately, Dario has undergone considerable testing and meets and/or exceeds ISO standards by being within 20 percent 99% of the time.
So, dont forget: Choose one meter to test to ensure regularity and reliability and to reduce confusion. Choose Dario.
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How Does Your Glucose Meter Work
Weve come a long way from the days when urine strips only displayed a result when your glucose levels were high enough to spill over into your urine. But how accurate are todays blood glucose meters?
When you place your blood on a strip, the glucose in that sample reacts with the chemicals in the strip setting up a small electrical current, which the meter reads. The more glucose that is in the sample the higher the current and the higher the reading.
When you consider the delicate components in the strip, such as the size of the strip and blood sample and the size of the meter, it is a wonder of technology that readings can be as accurate as they are.
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How Test Strips Work
Diabetes test strips pack a lot of technology into a small space. The plastic strips are coated with a very thin layer of gold. The gold is cut into a pattern that becomes the stripâs circuit.
One end of the strip also has a coating of chemicals. They soak up your blood like a sponge and turn the glucose into electricity.
An electrical signal travels from the strip to the meter. The number you see on the meter is the speed of the electrical current. More blood sugar means a stronger signal. A stronger signal means a higher number on your blood glucose meter.
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Are Home Glucose Meters Accurate
Home blood glucose meters are considered clinically accurate if the result is within 20% of what a lab test would indicate. For example, a glucose meter result of 100 milligrams per deciliter could vary between 80 mg/dL and 120 mg/dL and still be considered accurate.
All home glucose meters measure whole blood, but newer versions automatically convert the result into plasma results. The instructions that came with your glucose meter should tell you whether your meter is calibrated for whole blood or plasma results. You also can find out by contacting the manufacturer’s customer service.
To measure the accuracy of your meter, take it with you when you have a lab glucose test and check your blood immediately after. To ensure the most accurate results, ask the lab to process your blood sample within 30 minutes.
In 2018, the Food and Drug Administration released updated recommendations for blood glucose meters, including specific guidelines regarding accuracy.
According to the FDA, glucose meter values should be within 15% of results obtained from a lab 95% of the time, and within 20% of lab measurements 99% of the time.
What Happens If You Use Expired Diabetic Test Strips
Using test strips that have expired can cause your results to be inaccurate. If your test strips have expired, throw them away and begin using a new vial of strips. The expiration date is printed on every vial of test strips.
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Some Facts To Consider
Results of blood glucose will differ from each finger, body site and from minute to minute. Blood flows constantly through our skin and turnover is fast. Blood gets to different sites in your body at different times and as blood travels glucose leaves. This may be important if you are not always using the sides of your fingers to check blood glucose. Blood glucose can rise and fall quickly according to meal, insulin, exercise, etc.
Blood Glucose Meter Calibration Quality And Coding
In order to trust the data your meter is providing you, make sure youre getting a quality meter. We discuss this more below, but manufacturers must meet certain standards to be considered accurate. If youre unsure about the quality of the meter, check for the latest updates and versions by the maker.
When you first set up your meter, follow the directions included with it. The calibration process can vary per manufacturer and meter. Finally, your meter will need to match a calibration code with the number on the test strip vial. Some meters are the exception to this. For example, with an Accu-Chek meter, theres no need to code it, so you have fewer steps in glucose testing.
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Alternative Testing Sight Options
Recent advancement in glucose meters allows you to test in more comfortable areas. Continued testing using your fingertip can be uncomfortable, so many individuals with diabetes have started using other areas, such as the upper arm, base of the thumb, thigh, or forearm.
These sites may not provide the same level of testing accuracy, so be sure you speak with a diabetes educator before switching to an alternative testing site. Some meters arent capable of accurately reading blood drawn from an alternative site, so be sure your meter is equipped for this alternative form.
Why Am I Getting The Same Ketone Readings Multiple Days In A Row
Ketone levels are slower to change than glucose. It is not uncommon to receive the same ketone reading over multiple days, especially if you are testing at the exact same time every day. We suggest giving yourself a 5 day window to make changes to see if those changes are reflected in your ketone readings, and also try testing at different times of the day over those 5 days. If you go more than 5 days without seeing any difference in your ketone readings, you should perform a control solution test to make sure the strips and meter are working correctly!
What can interfere with my glucose or ketone measurements?
Here are some of the most common factors that can affect your blood glucose and ketone measurements.
I still think my meter is inaccurate, what do I do next?
Please visit our support center articles to review best practices for taking measurements:
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How To Choose An Accurate Meter
Independent testing, like the study done by the Diabetes Technology Society, is helpful to compare the performance of top commercially available glucose meters. This study tested meters and test strips which were independently purchased from stores across the country, and representative of what a consumer would purchase.
After testing the products over 300 times at three different clinical sites, the results showed that over 66% of the top meters on the market today didnt pass the rigorous study.
A surprising number of name brand meters did not pass all studies. Check the list below to see the 12 meters that failed one or more study.
The following devices passed the test and received the Diabetes Technology Societys Seal of Approval:
How You Prepare Before Pricking Your Finger
Especially among children , studies have found people with diabetes rarely wash their hands prior to glucose testing. Even if you werent recently touching food — something that could easily lead to an inaccurate reading — other things on your hands could potentially affect the accuracy. Hand lotion, ink from a newspaper, hair product, make-up, sweat, and even water after washing your hands if you don’t dry them thoroughly.
Proper blood sugar checking technique for greatest accuracy:
- Wash your hands or use an alcohol swab on that finger
- Be sure your test strips are within their expiration date
- Use control solution to verify your strips and meter are reading within range
- Avoiding touching the end of the strip where blood will be applied
- Be sure to apply enough blood to completely fill the test strip
- Avoid testing in extremely hot or cold temperatures
- Be sure to completely close the test strip container to prevent humidity and other environmental factors from negatively impacting all of your strips
In real life diabetes management with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes, its not always possible to control all of these variables. But keep in mind that if youre checking your blood sugar at the top of a mountain in New Mexico and your entire diabetes kit feels hot to the touch, your results may not be as accurate. The same goes for checking in the middle of a ski trip to Vermont when its 10 degrees outside!
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How To Check Accuracy Of Blood Glucose Meter
Blood glucose is measured in two different ways
How are these two different?
When it comes to a personal blood glucose meter, then the device draws blood from the fingertip and then after complete analysis, the results are produced.
But in the case of laboratory tests, blood is drawn from the veins, and then based on lab results, the clinical output is provided. Now, one of the most important questions here is which of the two tests is accurate?
Which of the above two is accurate?
Out of the above-mentioned two tests, the lab test is considered to be far more accurate. The reason is that it is performed under the guidance of a trained health expert and thus this test is far more accurate.
But both the tests have a slight margin of error. There can be a 15-20% of result difference in both the tests. And this is considered acceptable.
Although the truth is that any tests, done from two different sources or methods, will always have two different outputs. So, a slight margin of error is always considered to be acceptable.
In case your lab tests are showing a measurement of 100mg/dl of blood glucose, then your home tests can show up to 85-115 mg/dl.
Who determines this accuracy?
The blood glucose meter has the ISO accuracy standard of 15197:2013. A minimum of 95% of glucose test results must be within the 15% range.
8 Major factors that affects the Glucose Meter Accuracy
What To Do When Blood Sugar Readings Vary
Have you ever double-checked your blood glucose level immediately after an initial reading, only to find completely different numbers? Although it may be impossible for these measurements to be perfect, taking steps to ensure they are as accurate as possible is important for effective diabetes control. Below are a few steps you can take to get the most accurate reading the first time around.
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Calibrate The Glucose Meter:
Next, you will have to calibrate the glucose meter. So for this, start by inserting a code key into the strip slot. After that, you will need to check that the number appearing on the screen is as same as the number on the test strips. Also, you should be aware of the fact that you should calibrate your glucose meter every time you open a new box of test strips.
Study: Blood Glucose Meter Accuracy Comparison
Earlier, we made reference to some popular meters skewing glucose readings low.
The reason we know this is because we make a point of understanding as much as possible about the science of blood glucose and ketone meters, and that includes competitor brands.
We recently conducted a glucometer accuracy study that compared our meter GK+ Blood Glucose & Ketone meter against two other brands of meters that are generally considered to be among the best available meters, the Abbott Precision Xtra and the Accu-Chek Performa
Below, youll find a summary of our findings. You can also get a PDF of the full study here.
The graphs below for each meter are called Difference Plots. They are used to compare the results of each meter in relation to the lab results. The dotted lines represent the limits of the FDA accuracy standards, the solid line in the middle is the glucose laboratory test result, and the red dots represent the meter readings in relation to the lab result.
The difference plot essentially shows how close the meter reading was to the actual lab result across a range of readings from low to high, and identifies if there is a tendency toward a meter reading higher or lower than the lab results.
Notice that the GK+ meter readings hover relatively close to the lab results.
Abbott Precision Xtra
Notice that the Precision Xtra meter readings have a strong tendency to skew lower than the lab results.
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The Higher The Blood Sugar Level The Greater The Variance
Now, imagine checking your blood sugar and seeing a 300 mg/dL on the screen.
15 percent of 100 mg/dL is only a mere 15 point accuracy range in either direction, but 15 percent of 300 mg/dL is 45 points. That means your blood sugar could actually be 255 mg/dL or 345 mg/dL. Thats actually a variance range of 100 points.
Now, look at the 20 percent variance of a 340 mg/dL blood sugar reading. It could actually be as high as 408 mg/dL! If you took a correction dose of insulin for 408 when your blood sugar was actually 20 percent lower in the other direction of 340 mg/dL, at 272 mg/dL, youd inevitably wind up low.
Have you ever taken a carefully calculated dose of insulin to correct a high blood sugar only to find that three hours later your blood sugar is still well over 200 mg/dL? The variance of your glucose meter could easily explain this. You may have taken a correction dose for a blood sugar of 340 mg/dL when you really needed enough insulin to correct a blood sugar of 408 mg/dL.
While this can be frustrating at times, its important to keep in mind when making decisions around your blood sugar levels.
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Why Is It Important For A Blood Glucose Meter To Be Accurate
Blood glucose meter accuracy is important for several reasons:
- Improved reliability in your data and trust in your current diabetes management plan.
- Helps you understand and/or anticipate potential lab results when going for your A1c checkup.
- Lets you know what impacts your blood sugar:
- Did that glass of wine last night have a significant impact?
- Did you experience a spike or drop in blood sugar after that amazing Zumba class?
- Is there a connection between your stress and blood sugar?
How Accurate Are Glucose & Ketone Meters
Blood glucose and ketone meters are extremely valuable tools if you have diabetes, follow the ketogenic diet, or simply want to improve your metabolic health.
While at-home meters arent as accurate as gold standard lab tests, theyre still accurate enough to ensure you make safe decisions about glucose managementand theyre also strictly regulated by the FDA and other governing bodies as medical devices.
If youre feeling doubtful about the accuracy of your meter, this guide has the facts to help put your mind at ease.
But just as importantly, youll also learn how to check your meter for accuracy using a control solution if necessary, as well as the most common factors that can cause inaccurate readings .
Keep reading to learn the truth about meter accuracy, how accuracy is defined, how at-home meters compare to lab tests, how to test accuracy, and more.
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How You Can Better Manage Your Diabetes
Find out how you can better manage your diabetes with continuous glucose monitoring. Glucose meter technology has come a long way so that you can enjoy accurate testing and convenient monitoring. Explore common problems with your meter and where you can turn for reliable servicing or affordable replacement options. Dont let an outdated meter or damaged test strip prevent you from understanding your blood glucose levels.
How To Check Accuracy Of Glucose Meter
There is no doubt that it is extremely important that your glucose meters is giving you accurate results. But how to actually check the accuracy of Glucose Meter?
The reason this article is written is because a lot of best glucose meters are also not accurate in their readings and they can cause a huge misconception to the patient
You might have heard people saying that not all the glucose meters offer accurate results. So how you are going to check if your glucose meter is giving you the right results? Well, to help you out with this, I am going to talk about How to check accuracy of glucose meter.
However, the best way to check the accuracy of glucose meter would be to start using it in the first place. So the question is how to use a glucose meter? Well, let me answer this question at first:
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