June 8, 2014

Using the Test Strip Control Solution

I am a little surprised to see this topic, but since it is one that is seldom written about or even talked about, I am more than happy to write about this. The Mayo Clinic expert diabetes blog is the source and Nancy Klobassa Davidson, R.N. is the author.

The topic is the blood glucose control solution for use at home to check the accuracy of your test strips and meter. Most of the information even I have read about in the past has dealt only with using the test solution for checking test strips. In the ten plus years, I have used a fair number of test strips. Using the control solution, I have found only one container of test strips to be bad.

Seldom, if ever, do doctors or certified diabetes educators even talk about the control solution. The blood glucose meter kits handed out to new patients today do not include a vial of the test solution. Many pharmacies do not even carry the control solution or only have it for one brand. The control solution costs extra, uses a test strip, and has an expiration date.

The author states that this can be a confusing concept to teach and while it is another task for the person with diabetes to remember when managing his or her diabetes, some could be better off using the control solution. Yet, most educators and even those nurses that prefer to not teach this, as they are afraid more people might actually learn that there is not a program in place after the FDA approval to insure test strip quality and accuracy.

What the author recommends if the control solution returns results outside the range listed on the test strip vial seems a trifle bit overdone. The first two steps should have been done before using the control solution, not afterward. If the test strips are expired, why waste the control solution on expired test strips. If the control solution has expired, why waste a test strip to discover this. The third and fourth suggestions are valid. I have seen containers of test strips and meters on car dashes during both summer and winter.

What should you do if a glucose control test is out of range?
  • Check the expiration date on your test strips. If they've expired, this could result in false high or low blood glucose readings. Replace the test strips immediately with new, unexpired test strips.
  • Check the expiration date on the blood glucose control solution. Each meter company has a different replacement time for control solution, whether that's after 3 months, 6 months or 12 months.
  • Consider storage conditions. If the test strips haven't expired, consider whether the test strips might have been exposed to extreme heat, cold, light, or moisture. Did you leave the cap off the test strips, exposing them to light or moisture? For example, a steamy bathroom is probably not the best place to keep your meter and test strip supplies.
  • Did you recently drop the meter? Contact the meter company if there doesn't seem to be any explanation for the glucose control test to be out of range. It could be a meter problem, and you may need to replace your meter.”

The FDA is even more extravagant in how they recommend you waste test strips. Read the blog in the link above for those wasteful tips.

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