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A recent experience with one of my patients prompted me to
write this cautionary tale about how using bad glucometer test strips could
potentially lead to serious problems.
Harry had been on my diabetic Ã¢â‚¬Å“jump startÃ¢â‚¬Â program for
several weeks and we were trying to get his blood sugars into an acceptable
range. He was doing all the right things: he was faithfully following the
diet plan I had given him, taking his medication properly, and exercising
regularly. Still, he was getting very high glucose readings when he did his
glucometer testing at home.
Something wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t adding up. I was concerned about
HarryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s high glucose readings, but I was reluctant to raise the dosage of his
medication because I knew that he should be getting very different results after
following the program for several weeks. At the beginning of the program I had
checked his glucometer and it was working properly. As we discussed the case,
it turned out that Harry had recently purchased new test strips. I asked him
to go back to the pharmacy where he had purchased the glucometer and strips to
be sure they were working properly.
The glucometer was fine, but when Harry contacted the
company that made the test strips, he learned that the batch he had purchased
had been recalled because they were contaminated. The contaminated strips
would give inaccurate glucose readings and were to be returned to the company or
discarded immediately. When Harry bought new test strips, his glucose
readings were suddenly within the target areas we were hoping for.
After this episode, I went online to research this further
and found an FDA press release dated December 16, 2006 at http://www.fda.gov/diabetes/news.html
regarding counterfeit test strips. The article states that, Ã¢â‚¬Å“The counterfeit
test strips potentially could give incorrect blood glucose values--either too
high or too low--which might result in a patient taking either too much or
too little insulin and lead to serious injury or death.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The lesson in this? Always be sure that your glucometer
and test strips are working properly. Keep your doctor informed and let him
or her know if the test results you are getting donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t seem to be accurate. A
physician who is simply looking at blood sugar test results could easily be
misled into improperly altering your medication if you do not express your
concerns about their accuracy, and that could lead to very serious
consequences for your health.