January 31, 2014

Doctors Don't Always Explain Everything

This article in the Mayo Clinic website is good, but there is an opportunity lost. Doctor Maria Collazo-Clavell answers a question posed with a good answer, but stops too soon. The question is, “Sometimes my blood glucose monitor seems to give incorrect readings. What can I do to make sure the measurement is accurate?”

The doctor says, “When you start a new container of test strips, occasionally perform these quality control tests as you use them and when your results seem unusual.
To perform a quality control test, do one or both of the following:
  • Test using a control solution. Follow your normal blood-testing procedure, but use a liquid control solution instead of blood. These solutions usually come with your monitor and are available at most drugstores and pharmacies. Follow package directions.
  • Match your reading with lab results. Take the blood glucose monitor along when you visit your doctor or have an appointment for lab work. Check your blood glucose with your meter at the same time that blood is drawn for lab tests. Then compare your meter's reading with the lab results. Your meter's result is considered accurate if it falls within 15 percent of the lab test result.”
These are both great points and something many patients forget to do. The first one should be performed more often than many people want to do. It is a fact that most people never use the control solution. If the pharmacy does not have the control solution, they will order it for you. I have found one bad container of test strips in the 10 years of testing and that was about three months ago. I almost expected to find another bad container in this cold snap we had, but so far, all have been right on. The test strips are shipped in the mail and set in the mailbox too long.

I always check my test strips with the lab, and I have always been within five percent or less of the lab results. Several times, I have received the same result.

Now for the points I think the doctor should have talked about and did not:
#1. Is the person actually talking about a monitor or a meter? If the person is talking about a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), then the answer given by the doctor is completely off base. She does answer the question for a blood glucose meter and test strips; therefore, I will continue for the meter as well.
#2. Were the test strips stored properly? This should have been a point in the answer. Too often, the test strip container is stored in the bathroom or kitchen where excessive humidity can overload the container, which is manufactured to keep the test strips dry within limits. Also keeping the container in an area that is above the proper temperature or below will give erroneous readings.
#3. Were your hands properly washed and dried?

I could make this an extremely long blog, but I have covered this and much more in my blog here. I urge you to read it if you haven't and follow the links to other blogs. This is a topic that is very important and we can easily forget to be proper users of this delicate equipment.

No comments: