Capillary blood glucose meters are now well established for daily self-monitoring by people with diabetes. Healthcare Professionals also depend on blood glucose meters to help manage their diabetic patients.

So how can we be confident that our meters are giving the right result every time we use them?

Can we be sure that our meters continue to work as the manufacturer originally intended?

Insulin doses are adjusted based upon the results we obtain from our blood glucose meters and the potential consequences of getting this wrong can be serious.

Many different blood glucose meters are marketed for patients and healthcare professionals to use and there are 3 key steps that you can take to assure the quality of your results:

Know what you are doing
  • Make sure you have read and understood the instructions supplied with your meter and test strips.
  • Pay attention to any limitations that may be listed – this means that the particular meter may not be suitable for patients with certain conditions or taking other medication.
  • If you are self-testing at home and there is anything you do not understand about your meter, always ask your diabetes nurse or healthcare team.
  • Healthcare Professionals should always be trained by the meter manufacturer or local laboratory.
  • Make sure your test strips and QC solution have not passed their opened or unopened expiry dates.
  • Are you storing your test strips and QC solution at the right temperature?
Use Quality Control
  • The manufacturer of your blood glucose meter will provide you with small bottles of Quality Control (QC) solution. This is a sugar solution that you can test using your glucose meter, following the manufacturer's instructions.
  • The glucose result you obtain for this QC solution should fall within the range of results quoted by the manufacturer – the acceptable range is often found on the pot of test strips.
  • When you run a quality control test you will know straight away whether the result is acceptable or not. Achieving good QC results will give you immediate information and the confidence to continue to use your meter and act upon the results.
  • If your QC results are not within range, follow the manufacturer's instructions to troubleshoot this problem.
Use Qpoint External Quality Assessment
  • Participation in an External Quality Assessment Scheme or "EQAS" such as Qpoint for your blood glucose meter is recommended by the Medicines & Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the UK1.
  • When you enrol and participate in Qpoint you are sent a regular monthly test sample to run on your blood glucose meter but you do not know what the correct result should be.
  • You submit the result you obtain back to the EQAS organisers, who compare your result to the results that other users of the same meter have submitted for the same test sample.
  • There may be 100s or 1000s of users of the same type of blood glucose meter registered with the scheme from around the UK, or internationally, that your result will be compared to.
  • The following month, when you receive your next test sample, you will also receive a report that tells you how well your previous result agreed with all other users of the same glucose meter registered with our scheme.
  • The Qpoint report is easy to understand and gives advice on any action that you may need to take to improve the quality of your results.
  • If your EQA test results are in good agreement with other users of the same meter you will have reassurance that your meter and test strips are working as they should under your own local conditions and will have increased confidence in your blood glucose test results.
  • The Qpoint organisers work totally independently of the glucose meter manufacturers but when problems are identified with any particular meter the manufacturer is advised and encouraged to address the issue.
  • Any serious problems identified are reported to the MHRA.

1 MHRA Device Bulletin: Management and Use of IVD Point of Care Test Devices. DB2010(02) February 2010

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